Diageo has announced two regenerative agriculture programmes across its tequila and scotch brands in Mexico and Scotland respectively.
Focused on reducing carbon emissions from farming barley and wheat for scotch whisky and agave for tequila, the programme also aims to drive additional benefits for its farmers.
Under the initiative, Diageo expects to drive positive outcomes of enhanced biodiversity, improved water stewardship, carbon reduction and better soil health management. The programmes will look at locally adapted practices such as cover crops, crop rotations and reduced cultivations.
The tequila regenerative agriculture pilot will build the “local knowledge pool of agave regenerative practices,” investigating how the plants hold carbon over their 6 to 7-year growth cycles. Diageo says the programme will span across its farms and network of producers of the agave required for its tequila brands, which include Don Julio, Casamigos, DeLeon and Astral.
Ewan Andrew, Diageo’s president of global supply chain and procurement and CSO, said: “The scotch whisky and tequila brands have such a strong connection to their local communities, and as we build increased resilience and productivity across our end-to-end supply chains, we are building broader partnerships to enhance the impact of regenerative farming practices at scale”.
Phase one of the scotch programme will focus on approximately 20 farms in three key barley and wheat sourcing regions in Scotland for brands including Johnnie Walker, Talisker and The Singleton.
The initiatives will aim to reduce carbon emissions while building supply resilience, particularly in Jalisco, Mexico, a region that is exposed to climate risks, by building soil health. The spirit giant says that both programmes will provide greater resilience and knowledge to the farmers on how to farm and how to adapt farming practices in response to climate change.
The programmes are being delivered in partnership with agriculture and soil carbon specialists, including Agricarbon and James Hutton. Agricarbon will aid Diageo understand how much carbon the soil currently holds and will help to track soil carbon changes over time across both geographic contexts, while James Hutton will investigate how regenerative farming practices can improve soil structure, biological activity and water retention rate in the scotch programme.
Annie Leeson, CEO and co-founder of Agricarbon, commented: “Building our knowledge and understanding of the different raw materials across Diageo’s supply chain is key to reducing emissions and monitoring carbon changes in soils in different farming systems. Working with Diageo, we are pioneering large-scale assessments of soil carbon stocks.”
Diageo expects the outcomes of the programmes to contribute to a reduction in its scope 3 carbon emissions reduction target. The programmes form part of Diageo’s investment of £1 billion into developing a low-carbon world.
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