Carbon-neutral cheddar – a global first

01-11-2021 | |
Carbon-neutral cheese is currently being produced at Wyke Farms near Bruton in the UK. Photo: Canva
Carbon-neutral cheese is currently being produced at Wyke Farms near Bruton in the UK. Photo: Canva

UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, has been urged to sample the globe’s first carbon-neutral cheese, just before the opening of the important Conference of the Parties (COP26) negotiations in Glasgow.

Conservative MP, David Warburton (Somerton and Frome), appealed to the prime minister to support the dairy industry by committing himself to a carbon-neutral cheese toastie.

“Wyke Farms in my constituency is now producing what I think is the world’s first entirely carbon-neutral cheddar cheese,” he told Prime Minister’s Question Time.

In reply, Johnson said, “I hope very much that among its many other achievements, the COP26 Summit will bring the entire global community to a better understanding of the Wyke Farms carbon-neutral cheese toastie.”

Sustainable farming

Wyke Farms, a family-run Somerset-based cheddar business, are a long-time supplier to Lidl, and are renowned as pioneers in sustainable farming. They have been working with 150 British Red Tractor assured farmers, the majority of whom are within a 50-mile radius of the Somerset dairy. Wyke Farms are also paying a sustainability bonus to farmers to incentivise sustainable farming initiatives.

Carbon neutral cheese is currently being produced at Wyke Farms, near Bruton. Lidl is keen to use carbon credits generated through sustainable practices within the supply chain to support any offsetting of emissions and are working with third party partner, the Carbon Trust, to ensure its approach is robust and stands up to scientific principles.

Tackling barriers to carbon-neutrality in farming

The partnership with Wyke Farms has a longer-term ambition of reaching carbon neutrality within the value chain, i.e., without the use of offsetting with 2030 set as a deadline.

Amail Bunter, Lidl GB’s head of responsible sourcing and ethical trade, said earlier this year: “Our partnership with Wyke Farms is aiming to tackle some of the barriers to addressing carbon-neutrality in farming. Developing a closed-loop system requires significant investment, but we believe that this pioneering programme will help set the standard for our supplier practices going forward.”

As part of the carbon neutral pledge, Wyke Farms are reducing carbon emissions by using organic fertiliser produced on their own site. And the cheese-making at Wyke Farms is run on 100% self-generated renewable energy, produced from solar and biogas.

Speaking recently on the BBC’s Farming Today, Wyke Farms MD, Richard Clothier, said he felt that carbon taxes would slow industry progress to carbon neutrality and that benchmarking and working with processors were more likely to lead to cuts in emissions.

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Tony McDougal Freelance journalist
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