Chris

Asda has always tried to be straightforward and respond as we feel rather than looking for easy approval.

We have an open-door policy and aren’t afraid of people looking into how we run our business, so when we were asked whether we’d put a webcam in one of our chicken farms we took up the challenge. You can see the webcam on Your Asda.

Chicken webchat screengrab

Supermarkets are often lobbied by special interest groups on their particular cause. Many times the organisations have specialist understanding and knowledge that helps guide our business practice. Sometimes the compromises or situation make it difficult to fully deliver the changes sought and we always have to be mindful that our customers may have a very different perspective.

In early 2009 Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall broadcast his Chicken Out series looking at chicken production. Our position was that we would give our customers the choice. Hence we have a range of free range chicken for those who wish to buy it as well as standard production chicken.

We hope this webcam helps people see for themselves that the standard chickens we sell in our stores are well cared for. It is a small but important step forward that we hope will enable them to make their own informed choice as to which product they want to buy.

Posted by Chris on 13 May 2010
Chris

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Cows on the moo’ve? It’s been a long winter for us all and these cows are enjoying the sunshine and spring grass for the first time this year. It’s pretty plain to see how pleased they are to be outside for the first time in nearly six months.

Cheese is a staple food for many people; versatile and with different interesting tastes and textures. But how do you get from fresh liquid milk to the cheese on a plate of ploughmans?

How does ASDA make sure the taste and flavour is what you expect each time you buy it? Allow me to share with you the care and attention that goes into making Wyke Farms’ ASDA cheddar cheese – an award winning product.

Each block of cheese has its own characteristics of flavour and texture and the cheeses are graded according to how they are maturing. The very best are matured to become vintage cheddar for which Wyke Farms has an international reputation and you can buy as ASDA Vintage Cheddar.

Posted by Chris on 21 April 2010
Chris

ASDA has been selling low carbon eggs since 2006/7. These are from free range farms which are powered using renewable energy (wind and solar). To help customers choose and also to see if there was a demand for this type of product we sell the eggs in a distinctive package – Respectful.

Respectful eggs

Out of curiosity, I was wondering what the planetary effect of selling these eggs had been. So..

Respectful has sold 31,565,640 eggs. This is equivalent to a carbon saving of 88 tonnes. Or to put it in another way

88 tonnes of carbon are equivalent to; centrally heating 46 houses by gas for a year or running 110 small cars on average mileage for a year (or 44 executive cars) or taking 98 long haul flights.

It might seem that just buying an egg it’s not going to make that much of a difference but actually when a lot of people make a lot of small changes it adds up.

Oh, and eggs are a really good, cheap meal as well.

Posted by Chris on 09 March 2010
Chris

It’s always difficult summarising experiences and observations when visiting a country. My first reaction is on the nature of South Africa itself. The sense of a country in transition where old European settler architecture is contrasted with modern development in Cape Town’s waterfront and the striking confirmation of the new represented by the rising football stadium being readied for the World Cup in 2010.

South Africa

Secondly, looking at the sustainability aspects of Asda sourcing, how much is being done. The use of technology in water conservation with composting and concentrated water applications resulting in greater water holding capacity and more concentrated root zones. The resulting water use reductions are impressive and allow more production from a given allocation of water. Mind, the complexity of control and hence the vulnerability to interruption is a balancer. As ever it’s a balance. And for those who are concerned by the energy requirement for water pumping, these frequent low volume irrigation approaches need lower power pumps than low frequency, high volume approaches.

The society is changing too. The changes in legislation have made all I spoke to have programmes on social equity and, interestingly, environmental. The water that flows through irrigation is regulated under a ‘national ownership’. Private dam construction is now prohibited and forest owners are being charged for the water their trees are removing rather than permitting to flow downstream.

So, South Africa was a revelation. The beauty of the countryside and its geography (I hadn’t realised how hilly it is). The vibrancy of the people and the food and wine culture was very impressive. And, as I hope you have been able to gather from these posts, the way the fruit and wine sector are appreciative of the climate change challenges they face and are addressing was striking. As other areas of the globe face altering rainfall and water catchment South Africa has much to offer in technology and learning.

Posted by Chris on 21 December 2009
Chris

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Apple and pear tree are not all that they seem. It is possible to ‘stick’ different trees together in a process called ‘grafting’. Nearly all trees, including those from garden centres, have been grafted. The most usual is to use a root stock – ie the the bit with the roots growing on – and graft on the fruiting variety. Very often this ensures that a tree doesn’t grow too large.

However in the video you can see where the original orchard’s variety has become out-dated and uneconomic. Rather than replacing the whole tree, grafts have been placed on the branches.

Also the trees are trained into particular patterns. This ensures that the right amount of light is received for the variety in question.

Posted by Chris on 20 December 2009