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Private Sector Environment Standards: Impact on Ecological Performance & International Competitiveness of UK Agriculture

Private environmental standards for agriculture driven by food system ‘gatekeepers’ such as supermarkets are becoming more important drivers of farm practice than national standards. They are seen as key to (1) driving improvements in the environmental performance of agriculture, and (2) reassuring consumers about the connection between shopping decisions and the way food is produced.


  • But the evolving situation implies that producers may be disadvantaged economically and this will impact on the following:
  • Competitiveness of UK agriculture – through costs borne by the producer and benefits trapped by the retailer. Is it possible to address this through policy linked to terms of trade between suppliers and retailers?
  • Unfunded mandate - are these standards reasonable and on what grounds? Also, do they support or impede regulatory and policy approaches?
  • Do such standards improve environmental performance and land management?


This study will address these issues through the development of an enquiry as follows:

  • Evaluation and benchmarking of existing schemes
  • Verification of standards along discrete chains
  • Interviews with stakeholders
  • Calculation of impacts of standards on producers
  • Development of policies to address issues, and,
  • Dissemination to stakeholders

The study will also evaluate the need for further development of policies through the implementation and review phases.




  • Outputs (3)