THE UK’s first carbon neutral potato – Root Zero – will hit the shelves at 200 Waitrose stores from this week.

This new listing increases the availability of the planet-friendly potatoes throughout the UK including stores across London and, in the week that it hosts COP26, Glasgow. They will also be available nationwide through waitrose.com.

Root Zero potatoes are certified carbon neutral and grown using sustainable farming practices to remove carbon dioxide, create healthy soil and increase local biodiversity. Grown in Pembrokeshire by Puffin Produce, the company has measured the complete carbon footprint of the potatoes – from the power used to grow, store and transport them, to how consumers cook them.

Saving more than five and a half tonnes of plastic from reaching supermarket shelves, the potatoes are packed in 100% plastic-free bags which can be recycled, reused or home-composted.

The company is also using its packaging to raise awareness of the links between food waste and climate change, offering tips for cooking and storing the spuds to help customers cut down on the amount wasted.

Root Zero – carbon neutral potatoes

Huw Thomas, CEO of Puffin Produce, explained:

“The food system contributes up to 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions – in the week that world leaders meet at COP26 it’s clear that we have to act now – we are delighted that Waitrose is supporting our mission to farm in a way that protects and regenerates our land, plants and wildlife.

“With customers increasingly looking for products which will help them reduce the carbon footprint of their weekly shop, and support the protection of soils and nature, retailers have a major opportunity by supporting innovative products like Root Zero” he said.

Root Zero potatoes are farmed using regenerative practices which will remove carbon from the atmosphere, regenerate soil and increase biodiversity. Around 110 miles of hedgerows are being conserved to support biodiversity and specific projects are underway to protect key species like barn owls, yellow hammers and rare solitary bees

A new Root Zero biodiversity woodland is being planted and the company is supporting nearby undersee restoration of new seagrass meadows. On its farmland, 445 acres of new cover crops are being planted which, as well as sequestering an estimated 97,900kg of carbon dioxide, will boost soil health and provide additional habitats. 

Paul Bidwell, fresh produce buyer & Waitrose Partner said:

“We are delighted to be one of the first supermarkets in the UK to sell Root Zero potatoes. Not only does it complement our pledge to ensure our UK farm supplier network is carbon neutral by 2035, but it also supports our pioneering efforts to farm sustainably and responsibly with nature.”

Based on the findings from the footprint assessment, Puffin Produce has set a target to reduce the carbon intensity of Root Zero potatoes by 51% by 2030, covering emissions from across the entire supply chain. Going further, Puffin Produce has also committed through the Science Based Target Initiative to a company-wide 1.5°C target to reduce its operational emissions by 46% by 2030.

While it works towards that reduction goal, the company is investing in carbon offset projects that will neutralize all currently unavoidable carbon emissions. The offset projects supported include reduction schemes which cut emissions as well as removal projects which absorb greenhouse gases.