Diageo's Green Farming for Scotch and Tequila

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by KnowESG,

Diageo plc

KnowESG_Diageo's Green Farming for Scotch and Tequila
Image courtesy of Julien Behal

Diageo, the renowned producer of iconic spirits like Johnnie Walker whisky, Don Julio tequila, and Guinness, has unveiled two groundbreaking regenerative agriculture initiatives spanning its tequila and scotch brands in Mexico and Scotland respectively.

These programmes have a primary focus on mitigating carbon emissions associated with barley and wheat cultivation for Scotch whisky and agave cultivation for tequila while also championing added benefits for local farmers.

The ultimate objective of both these initiatives is to foster positive outcomes in terms of heightened biodiversity, enhanced water resource management, carbon footprint reduction, and better soil health maintenance. They will delve into the adoption of region-specific practices, such as the use of cover crops, minimised tilling, and crop rotation.

The regenerative agriculture pilot for tequila seeks to enrich the knowledge base regarding sustainable agave farming practices, particularly examining how these plants sequester carbon during their growth cycle spanning six to seven years.

This comprehensive programme will encompass Diageo's managed farms and its network of agave producers, which supply the agave required for Diageo's tequila brands, including Don Julio, Casamigos, DeLeon, and Astral.

The initial phase of the Scotch programme will concentrate on approximately 20 farms located in three crucial barley and wheat sourcing regions in Scotland, catering to renowned brands like Johnnie Walker, Talisker, and The Singleton.

While these programmes are designed to reduce carbon emissions, they also aim to enhance supply chain resilience, particularly in Jalisco, Mexico, an area vulnerable to climate-related risks. By focusing on soil health and knowledge dissemination, both initiatives intend to empower farmers to adapt their agricultural practices in response to changing climatic conditions.

Ewan Andrew, President of Global Supply Chain & Procurement and Chief Sustainability Officer, stated: "As we commit to continued investment in long-term business growth, we're excited to formalise our regenerative farming efforts beyond our ongoing Guinness program in Ireland.

"The Scotch Whisky and Tequila brands share strong ties with their local communities, and as we bolster resilience and productivity across our entire supply chain, we are forging broader partnerships to amplify the impact of regenerative farming practices on a larger scale."

These Scotch and tequila programmes are a collaborative effort with agricultural and soil carbon experts, including Agricarbon and James Hutton Limited. Agricarbon will assist Diageo in establishing baseline measurements for soil carbon content and tracking changes in soil carbon levels over time in both geographic regions. On the other hand, James Hutton Limited will explore how regenerative farming practices can enhance soil structure, biological activity, and water retention rates within the Scotch programme.

Annie Leeson, CEO and Co-Founder of Agricarbon, expressed: "Expanding our knowledge and understanding of the various raw materials within Diageo's supply chain is crucial for emissions reduction and monitoring soil carbon dynamics in diverse farming systems. Working in collaboration with Diageo, we are pioneering large-scale assessments of soil carbon stocks."

The anticipated outcomes of Diageo's global regenerative agriculture initiatives are set to contribute significantly to the company's goal of reducing scope 3 carbon emissions, as outlined in its ten-year ESG action plan, Society 2030: Spirit of Progress. These initiatives are an integral part of Diageo's commitment to invest £1 billion in fostering a low-carbon world.

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Source: Diageo

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