Bernard Matthews reveals high-flying vision to become UK’s greenest farmer

Turkeys Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

Turkeys Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Poultry producer Bernard Matthews has unveiled far-reaching plans to become the UK's 'greenest farmer'.

Rob Burnett, Bernard Matthews new Chief Executive.

Rob Burnett, Bernard Matthews new Chief Executive. - Credit: Archant

The Norfolk-based company has pinpointed six key goals to bolster its environmental credentials and drive down costs.

The ambitious blueprint includes measures to make it 100pc self-sufficient on renewable energy by 2016; 100pc carbon neutral by 2020; send zero waste to landfill reduce its carbon emissions by 35pc, drive down the amount of packaging it uses by 25pc and cut back water usage by 20pc.

It comes as the company has begun to show signs of recovery after significantly narrowing its pre-tax loss from £20.3m to £9.9m, as easing cost pressures and a tighter grip on its turkey supply helped drive a stronger performance. But turnover fell sharply in its year end results to June 29 2014, from £346.3m, to £306.8m.

Rob Burnett, Bernard Matthews chief executive, said: 'Sustainability is central to our long term business strategy. We're already generating a large proportion of our energy needs from renewable sources including solar, wind, waste and biomass and are well placed to be generating 100pc of our electricity sustainably by 2016.

'Our Big Green Plan is ambitious and will require everyone in the business to work together to achieve these tough targets. But for the business to remain sustainable in the future we need to ensure we become more efficient in the way we use energy.'

Bernard Matthews has already rolled out a number of green energy projects to soften the tread of its carbon footprint, with more than £100m being ploughed into its plans by green energy investors.

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To date the company has completed the UK's largest installation of biomass boilers – a total of 209 boilers across 30 of its turkey farms to help reduce its reliance on fossil fuels

Plans are also underway to install nine large-scale wind turbines at three farms across Norfolk and Suffolk, while a 55-acre solar farm in Suffolk is already generating up to 10.1MW of electricity, the company claims.

Elsewhere, the EDP Top100 firm is making the most of its waste by installing a £4.2m anaerobic digestion plant, as well as – subject to planning approval – burning more than 10,000 tonnes of turkey litter pellets in biomass boilers to generate heat.

Furthermore the Great Witchingham-based business is investigating whether it could develop anaerobic plants which produce gas that can be treated and piped directly into the national grid for domestic use.

Combined, these measures will help ease the cost pressures on the turkey giant's bottom line to ensure it remains on firmer financial ground in the future.

Speaking last week Mr Burnett said he had set strategic aims for the firm, which include the 'reinvigorating' of the branded business and increasing the group's share of fresh and frozen contracts.