Five projects backed by Tesco, WWF show innovative work to protect food chain

Produce Business report

Five companies that have been working with Tesco’s suppliers as part of the 2022 Innovation Connections Programme which is also headed by the WWF discussed progress they’ve made over the past year in their research projects.

Those projects are mainly geared toward enviromental preservation, conservation and the limiting of carbon in the atmosphere. Currently, 60% of all biodiversity loss and 30% of greenhouses gases are caused by agriculture and how the nation uses land.

“When it comes to putting our food system on a sustainable footing, we need to embrace innovation, particularly where it can help accelerate progress towards key climate and nature goals,” Kate Norgrove, Executive Director of Advocacy and Campaigns at WWF, said. “We are proud of our work through the WWF Tesco partnership to support and showcase these promising sustainability-focused innovations, and we look forward to hearing how they progress as they continue to develop their products beyond the Innovation Connections Programme.” 

Those developments will be critical as companies across the UK aim to trim costs while at the same time going green and protecting the food supply.

Here is a bit of insight provided by Tesco on the five innovators, which were given funding of up to £150,000:

AgriSound tested its ‘Polly’ AI devices that listen out for key pollinator species across three Spanish citrus farms and four UK apple orchards to quantify the benefits of insect biodiversity in different farming systems. As a result, AM Fresh, a major fresh fruit producer which worked with AgriSound on the project, has now committed to extending bee-friendly certification across all its Spanish citrus production sites,

CCm Technologies and Andermatt have teamed with Branston on a major trial of novel low carbon fertilisers. Focused on potatoes, new approaches to fertilising the potato crop have been investigated and benefits to both the environment and carbon footprint have been demonstrated. The Farm Carbon Toolkit has supported this project through conducting carbon footprinting analysis of the products and associated systems to understand further the emissions dynamics associated with this approach.

Farm Carbon Toolkit has worked with RBO Organic in helping support aggregated reporting of farm carbon data at a supplier level, including better tracking of Scope 3 emissions through the food supply chain. They’ve created a version of the tool to enable reporting from producers outside of the UK. deployed AI enabled devices that pick up bird sounds at 30 sites on 15 farms across the UK and Northern Ireland to better track birds as an indicator of wider biodiversity on farms.

Future by Insects achieved proof of concept for a circular feed system utilising microalgae and insects to produce a more protein rich feed ingredient compared to conventional soymeal. The project demonstrated the ability to recover valuable resources from food waste and to create a sustainable and locally produced protein for the UK’s feed industry.

“Innovations like these are critically important when it comes to building a more resilient, sustainable and productive food system,” Alice Ritchie, Lead Nature and Forests Manager at Tesco, said. “As these results show, they have huge potential to cut greenhouse gas emissions, enhance soil health and water quality, and provide a clearer picture when it comes to monitoring biodiversity in our supply chains.

“We’re really pleased a number of the winners are now progressing their plans with our suppliers, as well as sharing learnings with the wider industry along the way.”



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