Waitrose Funds First Chair of Sustainable Agriculture

Monday 14th December 2009

As part of its long term commitment to British agriculture, Waitrose is supporting the creation of an academic post dedicated to food security, the first of its kind in the UK.
The post of Chair of Sustainable Agriculture at Aberystwyth University will spearhead vital research designed to help secure the UK’s food supplies over the next few decades.
The senior appointment, funded by Waitrose, will be based at Aberystwyth University’s Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) and will contribute to the University’s ambition to establish IBERS as a driving force in using science to combat climate change and secure long term food supplies.
Comments Heather Jenkins, Director of Agricultural Strategy, at Waitrose: “The establishment of this chair reflects our long term commitment to the future security of our food supply and to addressing the issue of climate change. This new role will spearhead vital research exploring how UK agriculture can be a solution to these pressing issues.”

Professor Wayne Powell, Director of IBERS and Heather Jenkins, Director of Agricultural Strategy at Waitrose

Professor Wayne Powell, Director of IBERS said “We are committed to rejuvenating agriculture in the UK and to supporting the sustainability of the rural economy through establishing links between farming communities, business and academics. The investment by Waitrose is a vote of confidence in supporting that goal. We are seeking to appoint a high calibre individual as Chair, who will play a pivotal role in realising the vision shared by Waitrose and IBERS. In particular, this post will focus on upland farming and will look at what is needed for the future when land utilisation in the UK will be of paramount importance.”
The UK agricultural industry is undergoing a period of substantial change as it addresses an increasing number of issues. In addition, animal and plant diseases are ongoing threats that farmers and growers will have to contend with in the future, coupled with food security issues and strains on productivity.

Professor Noel Lloyd, Vice Chancellor of Aberystwyth University said:  “I warmly welcome this development, which is an excellent example of the key contribution that universities make to the economy and to policy development.  We are committed to excellence and to establishing strong links with the users of research. The wide range of expertise in land based science enables us to address major issues such as food security and the challenges of climate change.”

Waitrose has 222 supermarkets and combines the convenience of a supermarket with the expertise and service of a specialist shop. It is dedicated to offering quality food that has been responsibly sourced combined with high standards of customer service.  As a co-owned Partnership, everyone who works for Waitrose owns the business and the notion of partnership is also extended to farmers and growers. At the heart of the supply chain are its producer groups that operate across livestock, milk, farmed fish, fruit and vegetable categories.

About IBERS – Aberystwyth University’s Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences.
IBERS is an internationally recognised centre of excellence for the study of biological, environmental and rural sciences.
It is a unique institution within Higher Education the UK which draws on academic expertise to undertake groundbreaking research to improve agricultural practices and to inform policy. The extensive range of work undertaken covers teaching, research, enterprise and knowledge transfer which enables IBERS to play a valuable role in the global drive to tackle some of the world’s most urgent challenges.

IBERS was established in April 2008 following the merger of the Institute of Grassland  and Environmental  Research (IGER),formerly part of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council(BBSRC), with Aberystwyth University.  IBERS continues to receive significant funding for research from the BBSRC and benefits from financial support from the Welsh Assembly Government, DEFRA and the European Union.

IBERS employs 350 staff, has an annual turnover of £25 million and represents the largest land-based science department in the UK. A major investment of £55 million is underway to help realise this vision.