UK: Sainsbury’s hands out £1 million to help shape future of farming

Sainsbury’s has handed out over £1 million to its farmers and growers. Announced to over 700 farmers and suppliers at Sainsbury’s annual farming conference, the investment grants are set to drive the future of agriculture. The 13 allocated projects are set to improve animal health and welfare, efficiencies and supply chain resilience at field level and development of new products or processes which help to improve quality, taste and freshness.

Sainsbury’s Agricultural Research and Development fund was first introduced last year to encourage farmers and growers to adopt leading-edge technologies and make use of research and innovations in farming. The funding was awarded to 14 projects across the UK, which included innovations to extend the British strawberry season and reduce the reliance on natural gas for tomato, cucumber and sweet pepper growers. Through these and other innovations, Sainsbury’s is working towards its target to double sales of British food by 2020 as part of Sainsbury’s 20x20 Sustainability Plan.

The application for entries was opened in September to Sainsbury’s 2,500 British farmers and growers with support from Farming Minister, David Heath. This year saw 56 entries submitted, 21 of these were shortlisted across 14 sectors. The average awarded amount per project is £77,000 including a project to investigate methods of improving the yield of UK pears by optimising pollination.

Judith Batchelar, Director of Sainsbury’s Brand said: "We launched the Agricultural Research & Development fund last year, and were inspired by the level of innovation and forward-thinking that was evident amongst the farmers and growers we work with. This year, once again we’ve seen just how forward-thinking the agricultural industry is with 56 impressive entries. There are clear challenges facing the industry, but by helping farmers and growers to realise the potential of the innovative ideas they have and look at ways to adopt existing technologies and research, we can take real steps towards new and more efficient ways of working that benefit both them and our customers."

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