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  • McCain’s commitments help manage impacts of climate, geopolitical and supply chain disruption, whilst supporting the next generation of farmers

  • With inflation soaring, McCain sticks by growers and commits to 31% contract indexation equal to a £35m investment

  • Brings total investment over last two years to £50m, following last year’s contract price increase and a supplementary £5m energy support package

Tuesday 31st January 2023, London, UK | McCain, the UK’s largest manufacturer of frozen potato products, today announces a further £35m investment in its farmers, committing to a 31% contract indexation increase. The investment will help British farmers manage the increasingly challenging environment they operate in. This is further to last year’s contract price increase of 15% and a supplementary £5m energy support package, totalling a £50million investment in just two years.

Environmental threats such as droughts, heatwaves, and floods, coupled with a challenging array of geopolitical issues causing dramatic increases in prices for fertiliser and energy costs, have resulted in this unprecedented on-farm inflation for potato growers.

Through this investment commitment and wider business initiatives, McCain is taking the necessary steps to support the future of potato farming in the UK. This includes an ongoing commitment to sustainable contract pricing.

In 2007, McCain pioneered the Indexation Model method which measures changes in the cost of production to ensure fair and sustainable contract pricing for growers. In partnership with an agri-business consultant, McCain has reviewed next season’s contract pricing and has committed to a 31% indexation to ensure its growers continue to be fairly compensated in light of soaring inflation.

Other areas of support include a supplementary energy support package; with energy prices continuing to rise, electricity has caused serious concern for those growers with long-term storage facilities. For the current season, McCain have pledged to pay a supplement to those who’ve had to renew electricity contracts or are paying variable rates.

Today’s investment also complements the business’ ongoing work with farmers to increase the long-term sustainability of agriculture, including McCain’s global commitment to implement regenerative agriculture practices across 100% of its potato acres by 2030. This is supported by its global “Farms of the Future” that focus on regenerative farming practices, including enhancing biodiversity and soil health through technology and innovation. McCain also leads varietal development and provides a “Next Generation” programme to support young growers in the industry.

James Young, Vice President of Agriculture at McCain GB & Ireland, said: “Potato farmers have been hit very hard in the last couple of years and are facing a myriad of unprecedented challenges – from droughts, to rising fertiliser costs and energy crisis – that are affecting the way they grow potatoes. The combination of all these factors mean that they have experienced one of the toughest growing seasons in the last 40 years.

“As the largest purchaser of British potatoes, we pride ourselves on our strong partnerships with our 250 growers and are committed to helping them overcome these challenges. However, more work needs to be done collaboratively to ensure the long-term viability of potato growing in the UK. We are committed to working with farmers, customers, industry leadership groups and the government to create a sustainable future for years to come.”

This announcement comes off the back of McCain’s Potato Farmer Pledge, a multi-year £25m investment in the British potato industry that offered a loyalty scheme to growers, grant funding and contract optimisation.

Ben Sykes, a potato farmer for McCain in North Yorkshire comments: “In 2022, the challenge of growing potatoes in a changing climate was compounded by significant inflation in agricultural inputs. McCain’s indexation model has acknowledged these pressures for the 2023 season, allowing us to continue to focus on producing quality crops for the business whilst we strive to be resilient, financially viable and environmentally sustainable for the years to come.”

News of this investment to farmers comes just as McCain releases its Global Sustainability Report demonstrating how the business is responding to the challenges faced by climate change, its priority on enhancing soil health and farming partners’ transition to more regenerative practices. In the UK, McCain growers cumulatively completed 2,970 hours of training to promote good agricultural practices between July 2021 and June 2022. McCain’s potatoes are 100% certified, with 36% of the crops grown being stress-tolerant varieties illustrating the significant progress McCain is making to adopt smart and sustainable farming practices.

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