Carlsberg Group is forging ahead in its global move towards regenerative farming. The beer giant is taking strides with three pioneer brands in the UK, Finland and France, on its journey towards 100% regenerative agricultural practices by 2040.
The brand commitments form part of the Group’s new ZERO Farming Footprint ambition within its recently launched ESG programme, Together Towards Zero and Beyond. Within this, the Danish brewer has committed to sourcing 30% of all agricultural raw materials from regenerative practices and sustainable sources globally by 2030, reaching 100% by 2040. Aiming to promote biodiversity, restore soil health and support natural carbon capture, regenerative agriculture is an important part of the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss.
Through some of its most demanding targets yet, Carlsberg Group hopes that working toward and delivering on this new ambition will help accelerate the beer industry’s transition to a regenerative model. And while rethinking the ‘farm to bottle’ process is a challenging journey, requiring multiple stakeholder alignments and value chain reconfigurations, the early examples emerging in the UK, Finland and France are encouraging:
- In the UK, Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company (CMBC) has committed to 100% regenerative barley for Carlsberg Danish Pilsner by 2027, and for all UK brands by 2031.
- In Finland, partner farmers are supplying regenerative barley to Sinebrychoff, a Carlsberg Group company, for its annual KOFF Christmas Beer, while actively promoting regenerative farming among Finnish barley farmers.
- In France, Kronenbourg SAS already has 45 partner farmers supplying traceable ‘Responsible Barley’, and the 1664 brand has committed to use this for 100% of the barley in its Blonde brews by 2026. As a brand holding 10% of the French beer market, 1664 will help to pivot the local industry in a new direction.
Simon Boas Hoffmeyer, Senior Director of Sustainability & ESG for Carlsberg Group, says: ”We cannot reach our targets alone. Partnerships are vital across the value chain, which is why we are collaborating closely with local farmers, traders, maltsters, agronomists and NGOs who provide expertise in the transition to regeneratively grown barley. Over time this will allow us to offer our consumers and customers lower-carbon beers and contribute to improving the ecosystems we rely on. We will cooperate with all relevant stakeholders to ensure that we as a company and our industry as a whole, strives towards a ZERO Farming Footprint.”
New regenerative commitments in the UK
Starting the transition towards 100% regenerative barley in the UK, CMBC and the Archer-Daniels-Midland Company (ADM) have contracted the first 23 farmers to grow an estimated 7,000 tonnes of regenerative barley during 2023. Partnering with agriculture consultancy Ceres Rural, a regenerative agricultural protocal has been developed to align with Group practices, while considering the specific requirements and contexts for UK farmers.
Jonathan Lane, Managing Director UK at ADM says: “ADM is delighted to be supporting this exciting project as further evidence of how we work with farmers, here in the UK and around the world, to expand regenerative agriculture as part of our collective endeavour to reduce carbon and make our food system more sustainable. At ADM, we have years of experience of supporting farmers in their transition to regenerative agriculture and understand the importance of creating value for participants across the value chains in which we operate.”
In supporting CMBC’s journey, Alice Andrew, Associate Partner at Ceres Rural, says: “Agricultural systems vary hugely across the world due to climate, soil type, crops grown, scale and technology – therefore adapting the approach across markets is essential to success. Government and industry support for farmers will help scale these practices – from expert advice and facilitating peer-to–peer learning to gather local data to give more farmers confidence to adapt new practices.”
Stakeholder collaboration in Finland
Changing farmers’ mindsets to consider longer-term soil health before crop yield is one of the initial challenges in transitioning to regenerative farming. This, coupled with the current lack of universal standards on regenerative farming, means that stakeholders who help to facilitate the transition are invaluable. The Baltic Sea Action Group (BSAG) works as a matchmaker between regenerative farmers, scientists and the wider value chain through its Carbon Action platform, resulting in Finland’s oldest and most popular Christmas beer being brewed with malted barley from two regenerative farms in 2022.
Sirkku Puumala, a Finnish farmer supplying regenerative barley for KOFF Christmas Beer, says: ”Our farm is one of a hundred Carbon Action farms in Finland. On the Carbon Action platform, farmers and researchers share their experiences and know-how on regenerative farming. It is also important to us that those who buy our raw materials share our values and that all actors in the chain participate in the environmental work carried out together.”
The first traceable Responsible Barley supply chain in France
In France, the Group’s Kronenbourg 1664 brand has partnered with Malteries Soufflet and Soufflet Agriculture of InVivo Group to create the first traceable ‘Responsible Barley’ supply chain in the country. The aim is that, by 2026, Kronenbourg 1664 Blonde will be brewed with 100% barley malt sourced from this new agricultural value chain, with 250 partner farmers producing 5,000 hectares of responsibly sourced barley that is traceable using blockchain technology.
For this ‘Responsible Barley’, a set of agricultural and environmental practices have been aligned with stakeholders up the value chain, and specifications have been implemented to maintain high quality standards. These help to sustainably manage agroecological zones and promote biodiversity; reduce the carbon footprint through soil analyses and optimised fertilisation, as well as additional carbon capture and biomass production; guarantee optimum barley quality; guarantee fair remuneration for partner farmers and outlets; and ensure transparency on French provenance.
Guillaume Couture, CEO of Malteries Soufflet, says: “We are very happy to work with Kronenbourg SAS in this value chain approach, which promotes good agroecological practices. As a committed maltster partner, Malteries Soufflet has always been deeply concerned about the challenges of all stakeholders, from farmers to consumers. Therefore, we support the produce of farmers while developing sustainable practices, in order to continuously improve our response to customer expectations.”
Together towards regenerative farming
Carlsberg Group is actively committed to global collaboration through its new membership in the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Platform (SAI Platform) – created to actively promote and support the worldwide development of sustainable agriculture. Together with experts and other industry players, the Group will learn and share best practices, co-develop and apply specialised programmes, and align on a common approach to regenerative agriculture through its engagement in a dedicated working group. Achievement of Carlsberg Group’s ZERO Farming Footprint ambitions will only be possible by working together with multiple stakeholders on a new path forward, one that redesigns the value chain for enhanced ecosystem health and long-term business resilience.