As reported by The Telegraph, NatWest's banking app, which gives customers a personalised carbon footprint score each month, has been suggesting that customers cut red meat out of their diet and drink plant-based milks as a measure to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
The NFU has made NatWest aware that oversimplified messages such as this miss the nuance of the path to a sustainable food system and highlighted the damage such recommendations could do to the British red meat and dairy sectors.
NatWest has recognised the NFU’s concerns and our view that these recommendations do not support British agriculture and hugely oversimplify a very complex message.
Following the acknowledgement of the NFU's concerns, the NatWest Digital Banking team has committed to a full content review on the carbon tracker across the dietary recommendations suggested on the app.
“It is positive to see NatWest’s willingness to learn, and we are committed to continuing to work with the banking sector to ensure they fully understand and work alongside the agriculture sector when it comes to reducing emissions and supporting resilient, sustainable businesses.”
NFU Deputy President Tom Bradshaw
Balanced messaging to consumers required
The NatWest Agriculture team has assured the NFU that they are working closely with the Digital Banking team to ensure that a more balanced message is provided via its app.
The NFU has offered its support in developing this message and has reiterated that British livestock and dairy farmers are some of the most GHG efficient in the world and are custodians of large swathes of our iconic landscapes, with grass fields providing important habitats for biodiversity and vital carbon reserves in our soils.
NFU Deputy President Tom Bradshaw said he was “encouraged” by NatWest’s responsiveness following its recent meeting with the NFU and their subsequent content review of their greenhouse gas tracker.
He said: “It is positive to see NatWest’s willingness to learn, and we are committed to continuing to work with the banking sector to ensure they fully understand and work alongside the agriculture sector when it comes to reducing emissions and supporting resilient, sustainable businesses.”
“British meat and dairy are among the most sustainable in the world, with UK beef emissions less than half the global average. Red meat and dairy are also recognised as an essential part of a healthy diet, being naturally rich sources of protein and calcium and providing essential nutrients like iron, zinc and vitamin B12.”
Ultimately, the NFU urges the banking industry to keep a balanced message when making any recommendations to its customers and recognise the important role British farmers and growers have in the transition towards a sustainable economy and the work they are doing, and will continue to do, to facilitate this movement.
We will continue to engage with NatWest to support their review and inform the development of their updated recommendations.