AVARA FOODS has said it is ahead of schedule for its plan to mitigate the impact of its supply chain on phosphate pollution in the River Wye.

The integrator aims to ensure that its supply chain does not contribute to excess phosphate in the Wye Valley Catchment Area (WVCA) by 2025.

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Avara Foods has an agreement with Gamber Poultry Litter Ltd to guarantee that no poultry litter produced by Avara’s 104 farms in the WVCA can be sold as fertiliser within it from January 2024.

It said this was the “only way that it can ensure that the manure from its farms does not contribute indirectly, following the sale, to phosphate levels in the Wye”.

It has also taken steps to reduce the amount of phosphate in poultry feed by optimising diets – a total reduction of 37% since 2016.

Soil assurance

More long-term measures include a pilot of new soil assurance standards being developed by Red Tractor and with input from a range of experts, including WRAP and the Environment Agency.

These stricter standards will independently verify that the few in-catchment farms in Avara’s supply chain which spread poultry litter elsewhere on their estates do so responsibly and without contributing to phosphate pollution.

The first audits, conducted by NSF, have already taken place across six farms in the Wye catchment, with more planned in the coming months.

Phosphorus mapping

Andrew Brodie, Avara Food’s sustainability director, said: “At the start of this year we said we would mitigate our impact by diverting more litter away from catchment land and by placing greater assurance over that which remains.

“These two initiatives, once fully implemented, will help us achieve those objectives ahead of schedule while the development of technological solutions and circular economies continues.

“It has become apparent through our work, particularly the accurate mapping of phosphorus through our supply chain, that wholesale changes are needed in the way catchment land is managed and overseen and for all contributors to play a quantifiable role if the river is to return to health.”

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