29 September 2022
Agriculture leading the way with sustainability
SMEs within agriculture are the most likely to have invested in improving their sustainability, new research has found.
Research and analysis of more than 500 UK SMEs conducted by Paragon Bank into leading sectors of the UK economy found that 73% of agriculture SMEs already considered themselves to be green.
The sector’s commitment to sustainability and green issues was in stark contrast to other industries, being almost three times as likely as construction (25%) and almost 30 percentage points higher than the national average of 46%.
Manufacturing and transport businesses recorded 37% and 48% respectively.
The research also highlighted the commitment of agriculture SMEs to paying extra for green funding options, with 77% of those in the sector willing to do so compared with 49% of SMEs overall.
Whilst the agriculture sector is leading the way in embracing sustainability, there is still appetite to go further with 80% of the sector saying they were willing to making their businesses greener in future.
Citing benefits for making their businesses green, SMEs in the agriculture sector said investing in sustainability:
• Improves the reputation of the business (59%)
• Gives a competitive advantage over similar businesses (47%)
• Ensures compliance with legislation (41%)
• Saves money (26%)
The findings come at a time when the UK economy is facing the highest interest and inflation levels recorded in decades, with an expectation for the number of SMEs seeking refinancing and financial support to increase.
Commenting on the findings, Paragon’s Ashley Butterfield, Regional Director SME Lending, said: “Our sector can not only be proud of the steps it has taken to instil sustainability practices, but also the high proportion of agriculture SMEs that are committed to taking further action.”