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£1.6m awarded to sustainable food and drink innovators

By Bethan Grylls

- Last updated on GMT

Apple speed breeding research at NIAB. Credit: Growing Kent & Medway
Apple speed breeding research at NIAB. Credit: Growing Kent & Medway

Related tags Investment Sustainability Innovation Food waste

Growing Kent & Medway has awarded a share of more than £1.6m to 13 businesses that will help address big sustainability challenges within the food and drink industry.

Funded through two separate grants, the ‘Business Sustainability Challenge’ and ‘Collaborative Research & Development’ will help propel a range of projects that aim to sustainably transform the horticultural and plant-based food and drink supply chain.

Among the winners, projects ranged from next-generation technology, to recycled waste water, to new fruit breeding techniques, with the funders particularly interested in those that focused on circular economies and finding new uses for waste.

The Business Sustainability Challenge grant offered up to £50,000 to address key sustainability issues and opportunities. Eight winners were chosen and will share over £287,000 in funding for their short-term, high-impact innovative projects.

Tensei Ltd is among them and will be using its grand to test different agri-waste materials as polymers fillers to reduce the amount of virgin or recycled plastic used in packaging. Along with reducing carbon emissions, the technique could also help create new revenue streams for farmers and growers from their waste products. 

While Canterbury Brewers & Distillers are using the funding to develop a new system that will produce speciality mushrooms using the waste grain, water, CO2​ and energy from its whiskey production facility.

Nim’s Fruit Ltd – a previous winner of the Food Manufacture Excellence Awards​ – has also been awarded funding to repurpose its fruit and vegetable powders.

Recipients of the Collaborative Research and Development grants meanwhile saw Growing Kent & Medway award five projects a share of £1.4 million. Included in the list of winners is Worldwide Fruit Ltd, which was given £222,477 for its next generation apple breeding for resilient UK production project; and Edward Vinson Limited which saw £256,863 for its work in phenotyping and genomics.

Dr Nikki Harrison, programme director for Growing Kent & Medway, said: “We are investing in real-world business innovation and research projects that demonstrate how science-led, sustainable innovation can be deployed throughout the supply chain. This not only benefits the environment by helping Kent businesses become more sustainable but also stimulates economic growth. Fresh thinking can help create new revenue streams and new markets from waste by-products and processes.

“While these projects demonstrate the exciting innovation happening in Kent and Medway, we expect the knowledge that is gained to help transform our food systems throughout the sector.”

Growing Kent & Medway will be announcing two further grant funds for the horticultural and plant-based food and drink sector this November. Applications will be open to businesses registered throughout the UK. A full list of all the funded projects is available from growingkentandmedway.com​.

In other news, AG Barr has acquired soft drinks brand Rio Tropical for £12.3m.

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