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Food and Drink Case Studies

Loch Fyne Oysters

Loch Fyne is known for its line of quality fish and meat products across the UK through its food distribution business and over 20 restaurants. Engaging 120 employees, who also jointly own the company, Loch Fyne Oysters has strived to build not only a sustainable business but also a thriving local community and economy.

The company is guided by a philosophy incorporating Total Sustainability into its business. This translates into discrete marketing, delivering quality products, investing in employee development and also to minimising environmental impact. To implement its policy, Loch Fyne Oysters has set itself a target to be at least ‘neutral’ in terms of its net environmental effects by 2005, and to strive to make a positive contribution towards biodiversity and the environment.

The effects of the farming practices of Loch Fyne Oysters have been studied by Stirling University and findings are confirming an increase in biodiversity in both the mussel and oyster fisheries (which are attracting butterfish, shrimp, and eels). Unlike fish, oysters and mussels are filter feeders, leaving no residues on the sea floor and actually attracting a wide range of fish.

Other fish sold by Loch Fyne is purchased from sustainable sources. Local langoustines are creel caught, with no sea-bed damage or by-catch. Salmon is bought in from sources accredited by the RSPCA’s ‘Freedom Foods’ organisation.

Loch Fyne has been expanding its business to include meat and game and other food products from Argyll. Building on its strategy of engaging with suppliers, a network of over 50 suppliers has been set up, within the Argyll zone, developing a market for these local businesses as well as working together to improve sustainable farming practices.

The company operates only one car and one delivery lorry and to offset its carbon emissions, the company is contributing funds to a woodland regeneration scheme behind its restaurant and shop on Loch Fyne. It has applied to receive its electricity supply from an Argyll wind-farm development and is embarking on the ISO 14001 Environmental Management System certification.

For Loch Fyne Oysters their approach makes business sense. In all its activities, there is a gain not only for the environment, economy or society, but also for the company itself. Demonstrating that the company’s views are not maverick but mainstream, addressing customer needs and providing good quality products, the business has created a market niche for itself. Through developing careful relationships with suppliers, the company is helping to meet its procurement needs – and market demand – while providing an incentive to local farmers to run sustainable businesses themselves. Analysis shows that this sustainable approach is actually reducing direct costs and overheads.


Diageo is committed to being a good corporate citizen and has a history of supporting environmental projects. The Diageo environmental policy commits the company, among other things, to manage its global operations in a way that supports biodiversity, and to educate and motivate employees to conduct activities in an environmentally responsible manner. The policy is backed up by a set of environmental ‘standards’ which each business area is required to meet through their environmental management system. These standards are an integral part of the company’s risk management framework and are subject to an assurance process.

The company is in the process of developing a standard on biodiversity, which will enable different parts of the company to develop and manage biodiversity activities which are relevant to their business operations and their local area.

Diageo has a history of environmental action and awareness through employee involvement. In 2002 the company launched an employee programme with Earthwatch Institute (Europe). This programme, now in its second year, enables 15 Diageo employees each year - from all levels and all operations - to participate in an international Earthwatch biodiversity conservation project. Upon their return to their home countries, the employees act as environmental champions and develop conservation projects at their workplace, involving their colleagues in important local issues, and sharing their Earthwatch experience as widely as possible.

Loch Duart

Loch Duart Ltd is a fish farming company with 30 employees exporting to 7 countries. In addition to meeting minimum regulatory requirements, it has an Environmental Policy which states its commitment to the environment.

Loch Duart ‘best practice’ principles help the company to implement its environmental policy and carry out production methods which are beneficial to biodiversity. These practices include:

• A year-long fallowing policy which maximises the health and welfare of the fish and minimises environmental impact.
• Significantly lower stocking densities than current industry standards and specifications.
• A feeding regime mimicking the irregular ‘natural’ feeding of fish, allowing for periods of rest and thus reducing feed waste.
• No growth promoters, antibiotics or net anti-foulant agents are used.
• All feed comes from sustainable non-GM sources
• All stock is traceable to eggs and forebears.

The production method at Loch Duart is based on two hatcheries in three sea lochs, leaving one fallow each year. As in traditional rotation in land farming, one full year allows natural cleansing and regeneration.

In order to gain brand recognition, Loch Duart decided to pursue certification. It chose the RSPCA’s Freedom Food welfare scheme which it helped to develop and which covers all aspects of salmon rearing. It is also a member of Scottish Quality Salmon (SQS) and has won has an award in the Marine Innovation Category of the Highland Biodiversity Project awards. In addition it has recently become ISO 14001 certified.

Compliance with regulations, standards and certification schemes takes time and effort, requiring patience and dedication to write and rewrite policies and practices. At Loch Duart, this investment is tied in closely with the company’s marketing strategy, which aims to build a strong brand image and develop ways of securing that brand.

Investing in sustainability and raising brand and marketing awareness for their salmon helps Loch Duart to sell to specific markets in the UK and overseas. Ultimately the measure of sustainability for the company is whether it will be around in one hundred years, and that depends on safeguarding not only short-term profits, but also the survival of natural resources.

Mackies Ice-Cream

Mackie’s is a Dairy farm, ice-cream manufacturer and distributor with 70 members of staff. The business is a true ‘plough to plate’ operation producing the majority of the milk and cream used in the production process.

Mackie’s are committed to pursuing an environmental policy alongside innovation in technology. The farm’s work on conservation started with the desire to enhance the countryside. Alongside the business plan, the company is currently writing an Environmental Management System which will build on biodiversity activities to date to achieve its environmental policy’s objectives.

Mackie’s controls all stages of its food production chain – from growing fodder through to harvest, production of cow feed, milking and the dairy process. The 2,000 acre farm grows grass and cereals, most of which are processed to feed the herd of milking cows. The landscape is managed to provide habitats for wildlife, encourage native species, and provide the community with accessible paths through the countryside. Specific projects and practices include:

• Planting 120 acres of deciduous trees
• Sowing grass strips around fields to create wildlife corridors linking areas of woodland.
• Creating wetland areas and a pond to encourage diverse wildlife populations
• Practicing minimum tillage
• Composting and using compost over a period of 12 months, helping reduce nitrate leaching and increase invertebrate populations
• Nutrient budgeting and careful analysis of muck and slurry application to the fields
• Avoiding any spraying of field edges
• Employing a ‘Pest Damage Tolerance’ policy which recognises that some pest damage to crops is inevitable and acceptable, so long as it is under control

There have been visible benefits from these practices, not only to biodiversity but to the farming side of the business too. Grass margins have shown to be beneficial to invertebrates, hares, deer and rabbits and they also help to control pests, which appear to prefer the grass verges to crops! Grass margins also reduce nitrate leaching.

The company’s countryside management record is important in running the marketing side of the business with the farm production process as the real selling point for the company.

Increases to the company’s bottom line show the financial benefits of Mackie’s biodiversity oriented work. There have been other benefits too, such as noticeable changes in employee attitudes towards wildlife and habitats and the positive publicity in the local community through improving the landscape.

Photo Credit:Will Peskett/Diageo
Loch Fyne, Loch Fyne Ltd
Loch Duart, Jo Zaremba
Mackies Harvesting, Mackies Ice-cream

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