Asda warns climate change will hit 95% of fresh food supplies

UK supermarket launches climate adaptation plan to address growing concerns over supply chain

Pic: Dominic Alves/Flickr

Pic: Dominic Alves/Flickr

By Sophie Yeo

Global warming is likely to make sourcing large supplies of fresh fruit and vegetables harder and more expensive, says leading supermarket chain Asda.

It says 95% of its fresh produce would be affected by projections of longer summers, heavier rainfall and more extreme weather events.

While the impacts of climate change may be relatively small in the UK compared to overseas, Asda and its UK customers will face heavy impacts because of its global supply chain.

“Climate change is going to fundamentally change growing conditions in some of the markets and countries we source from,” said Paul Kelly, vice president of corporate affairs at Asda, which is the UK branch of US superstore, Walmart..

Concerned about the effect that rising sea levels and changing weather patterns could have on its supply chain, the it has launched a Climate Adaptation Framework.

“The challenge of how we put healthy, sustainable and affordable food on the plates for customers is one of the biggest challenges our company has ever faced,” Kelly added.

The company’s new climate strategy maps out how the supermarket’s produce and logistics will be affected in the face of changing weather.

The framework was prepared in partnership with the Climate Development Knowledge Network at PwC.

Its chief Sam Bickersteth said it demonstrates even developed countries cannot think themselves immune to rising temperatures and possible extreme events.

“There are lots of factors that will drive shocks in the food system … The UK is an island totally connected to the rest of the world,” he said.

Asda now ranks among the businesses pushing for more action on climate change because they see it having an impact on future profits.

Manuel Gómez Peña, vice president of sustainability at Asda’s US cousin Walmart, recently told RTCC: “It’s not something that we’re doing for public relations or it is the nice thing to do. It’s now making business sense.”

Chris Brown, senior director of sustainable business at Asda, said that they would not immediately be sharing the findings of the report with other companies, as it gave them a “competitive advantage” to know about climate change in the marketplace.

But he added: “Once we’ve taken first mover advantage, I think there’s an obligation to use it more broadly.”

Read more on: Climate finance