Sustainability Spotlight | July: Pipers Farm

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Pipers Farm
Posted on
24 Jun 2024

This month we’re turning out sustainability spotlight on well-know supplier of ethically sourced meat and more, Pipers Farm.

We asked Directors Will Greig and Abby Allen to tell us about the sustainability ethos at the Cullompton-based business.

Tell us a little about Pipers Farm?

Founded in 1989, Pipers Farm is a destination for meat that’s produced sustainably and in harmony with nature.

Today, we work directly with 50 small-scale, family farms who produce grass fed beef, lamb and mutton, properly free-range chicken, pigs, ducks and Christmas poultry, and wild venison and game during the season.

Alongside the meat reared directly for us, we work with small scale fisherman catching sustainable seafood out of Brixham harbour, overseen by our friend Mitch Tonks at Rockfish.

We also sell an ever-growing range of ethical and sustainably produced dairy, artisan cheese, bread, pulses, small batch preserves and much more.

What have you done to make your business more sustainable?

Everything we do at Pipers Farm is driven with sustainability in mind. Our mission is to support farmers to produce delicious, natural food that increases and protects biodiversity as well as providing benefits such as clean water, clean air and sequestering carbon to make us more resilient to climate shocks and secure a better environment for generations to come.

What we practise on farms is followed through the business in many different forms.

Waste is something we must be hugely conscious of, so as well as operating a nose to tail business, encouraging our customers to value every part of the animal, any meat that is not usable in the butchery is sent to a local biodigester to create fuel and fertiliser locally.

We also blast freeze all of our meat and encourage our customers to view freezing as nature’s ultimate preservative. Freezing produce reduces waste, and encourages customers to shop less frequently reducing carbon.

Packaging is another issue that requires close scrutiny. As we work directly with local abattoirs, we do not use any plastic packing until the final stage of our production when our meat is packed in order to sustain the harsh temperatures of the freezer (-21). In comparison to supermarket models with lengthy supply chains where meat can be packed and repacked up to 11 times before sale, we use a minute amount of plastic in our business.

While we would love to move away from plastic completely one day, however until viable alternatives are developed this remains an area for us to monitor. Where we have more control of other aspects of packaging we strive to be industry leading. We were the first business of our kind to use 100% British sheep’s wool that was also wrapped a completely home compostable liner, ensuring not only that produce reaches our customers’ doorstep in perfect condition, but that it can be effectively re-used, recycled or composted. It also directly supports British sheep farmers.

What would you like to change in the future to improve your sustainability credentials further?

The two areas we would love to see improve are the development of alternatives to plastic packaging or alternatively better options for all of us at home to effectively recycle our packaging.

Another focus for us is energy. On our Fulfilment Centre in Cullompton, in partnership with our landlord we have been able to install solar panels. However, on our Butchery site in Exeter, which is under council ownership, we are not able to install solar. We would like to see improvements made in how both local government and landlords encourage and support the use of solar on commercial buildings.

What tips do you have for other businesses that would like to become more sustainable?

Innovation is key to fixing today’s challenges. For example, with sheep’s wool packaging we were concerned about the supply chain of the other products that were available ‘out of the box’ and in the market place. We knew we could do better, so after a lot of research we found a partner who could help us create a product that we could completely stand behind.

Learning is also key. Sustainability is a moving target which means you must have an open mind and a willingness to learn and adapt. Nothing trains you better for this challenge than farming, where you physically have nature up close, you can see whether the changes you are implementing are really giving you positive outcomes. I would encourage everyone to keep learning, improving and adapting to the challenges of sustainability.

Sustainability is a complex subject, and it is important to truly understand the issues your business faces. There is so much greenwashing in this space, in order to not get dragged down this path it is key that sustainability is really meaningful to you at your core, so it is in your nature to make the right choices and not get swayed by the ticking of boxes. ‘Look after nature and nature will look after you’ is a statement we regularly make in our business, with this idea at our core, naturally it leads us to making better choices for the long term.

To find out more about Pipers Farm visit the website HERE.

Pipers Farm commit to rearing native breeds, recognising the important role they play in sustainable farming.

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