A FOOD producer at the centre of protests over River Wye pollution has announced an overhaul of its manure management strategies on poultry farms.

Responding to environmental concerns, Hereford-based poultry giant Avara has told its suppliers that manure from its supply chain will no longer be sold as fertiliser within the river’s catchment.

It says the measure is a proactive attempt to reduce phosphate run-off into the Wye, a major contributor to its deteriorating health.

The decision follows intense scrutiny of the company’s environmental impact, notably from groups such as Marches Climate Action (MCA), Save The Wye, and Friends of the Upper and Lower Wye.

These organisations recently led a robust campaign against supermarket giant Tesco, drawing attention to the retailer’s association with Avara Foods and the subsequent impact on the Wye.

Nick Day of Friends of the Lower Wye said of the latest statement from Avara CEO Andy Dawkins: “Great news for the future from Avara, but no firm dates. Every further week’s delay is a further two million chickens – 3,000 tonnes of Avara manure, and a load more phosphate.

“I welcome the announcement and hope that implementation will not meet with any delays?”

Avara’s new measure also features a pilot for farms wishing to use their poultry litter on their lands, ensuring that they adhere to rigorous Red Tractor assurance standards, centring around soil and nutrient management.

While still in the developmental phase, the firm claims it will help foster good agricultural practices, aiding in sustainable soil and nutrient conservation. It says it is determined to set a precedent for litter management in the region and support a circular economy, maximising value from poultry litter in an environmentally friendly manner.

The food giant adds that it has collaborated with Gamber Poultry Litter Limited to facilitate the change, ensuring that the litter previously sold as fertiliser within the catchment will now be directed to Gamber to be redirection away from the Wye catchment.

Gamber’s role includes providing full traceability for litter sales, fortifying Avara’s commitment to environmental protection, says the company.

Avara adds that the move aligns with its previous statement emphasising the importance of collective action and acknowledges its duty in enhancing the river’s quality.

And it says its recent changes reiterate its dedication, as they set their sights on ensuring their supply chain isn’t a part of the problem by 2025.

But they also call on other stakeholders to contribute towards improving the river’s health, stressing the need for a collective response to tackle the challenges the River Wye faces.