Sainsbury’s hands out £1.2 million investment for future of British farming

By Judith Batchelar on 04 January 2013

british farmer

This week, Sainsbury’s gave out £1.2 million funding to drive the future of British farming, a significant increase on the original pledge of £1 million. Announced to an audience of nearly 1,000 farmers and growers the 14 winning projects range from extending the British strawberry season to the sustainable impact of poultry feed – both integral products to Brits’ shopping baskets.

At a time when British farmers have faced one of the most challenging growing seasons due to the adverse weather the grants offer an injection of support for the future. The key criteria for applications were to offer improvement in animal health and welfare, improvement in efficiencies and cost effectiveness and development of new products or processes which help to improve quality, taste and freshness.  Of the 70 quality entries submitted, 21 were shortlisted and 14 got final funding which averages at £123,000 per project.

One of the awards went to The Aberdeen Angus Cattle Society and The Queen Elizabeth Castle of Mey Trust in Caithness, in collaboration with the North Highland Initiative, to improve the consistency and eating quality of Aberdeen Angus sired cattle entering the supply chain.  It aims to improve animal welfare, carbon footprint and meat quality.  It places the North Highlands of Scotland at the forefront of agricultural innovation, while nutrition and animal health are paramount to the success of these trials being carried out with the Castle of Mey herd at Longoe Farm.

Judith Batchelar Director of Sainsbury’s Brand said: "The quality of the applications comes as a stark contrast to the perception that agricultural innovation has slowed in recent years, all 70 were future thinking and would play a key role to driving the farming industry. The 14 successful projects is not only great news for those involved but the whole supply chain, through to our customers who understand the importance of supporting British and improving animal health and welfare.

"As we work towards our 20x20 sustainability plan a number of these projects will put us in good stead to achieve our stretching targets including doubling sales of British and sourcing key raw materials sustainably."

Ashe Windham, Chairman of The Queen Elizabeth Castle of Mey Trust adds: “The trustees are delighted with Sainsbury's multi year commitment to Longoe Farm at The Castle of Mey and the support of  HRH, The Duke of Rothesay’s North Highland Initiative, and the Aberdeen Angus Cattle Society, of which HRH is Patron.   The Trust is greatly appreciative of the tremendous work done by Ron McHattie, Chief Executive of the Society, in masterminding our application for this prestigious grant.

As one of the most northerly farms on the mainland Longoe retains an enviable reputation as a good livestock rearing farm with very few health problems. We much look forward to working with Sainsbury over the next few years and deepening their links with the North Highlands.”

The 14 winners and projects include

  • The Aberdeen Angus Cattle Society & the Queen Elizabeth Castle of Mey Trust in collaboration with the North Highland Initiative: Improving the consistency and eating quality of Aberdeen Angus sired cattle entering the supply chain.
  • Jake Freestone, Overbury Estate Farm and Evidence Based Veterinary Consultancy: The effects of foot trimming lame sheep – a pilot observational case control study
  • Dairy Development Group, Evident Based Veterinary Consultancy and Muller Wiseman: Determining the cost of poor fertility performance in modern herds and the optimum interval between calvings
  • Jake Freestone, Overbury Estate Farm, Henry Dunn, Upleadon Court farm and Randall Parker Food Group: Improved flock health
  • Malcolm Keys, Keys Farm and Dunbia: Pig Innovation Centre
  • Meryl Ward, Emine Farms, Dave Morgan, DP Morgan, Paul Westgarth, HM Pigs and Newcastle University: Selecting the right sow for free-farrowing systems
  • Sainsbury’s Chicken Development Group and 2 Sisters Food Group: The global sustainable impact of feeding poultry
  • Sainsbury’s Potato Grower Group and Greenvale: Improving soil and water management for the sustainable intensification of potato production of four key Sainsbury’s varieties
  • Sainsbury’s Jersey Grower Group and Albert Bartlett: Investigating the sustainability of non-chemical solutions of Potato Cyst Nematode control in Jersey potatoes
  • Camgrain and ADAS: An in-season protein prediction system for Sainsbury’s grain supply chain
  • Paul Howlett, Wight Salads: Reducing the reliance of tomato, cucumber and sweet pepper growers on natural gas for CO2 enrichment in greenhouses
  • Chris Batchelar, Wallings Nursery and M&W Mack Ltd: Extending the British strawberry season through the application of supplementary LED lighting
  • Paul Mansfield, F W Mansfield and Clive Goatham, A C Goatham: Dynamic controlled atmosphere storage to optimise the delivery of high quality grown apples
  • Chris Batchelar, Wallings Nursery, Rob James, Thanet Earth and Paul Howlett, Wight Salads: Benchmarking to understand and drive efficiency in energy, water and fertiliser use in UK Glasshouse production

Notes to editors

  • Sainsbury's has supported British farming for 143 years and we continue to work collaboratively for the best solutions on price, animal welfare and carbon efficiencies
  • Sainsbury's has ten dedicated agricultural Development Groups with Dairy being the first and most established having been set up in 2007 and currently with 321 farmers
  • Sainsbury's has invested over £30 million since 2006 in its ten dedicated Farmer Development Groups across key agricultural categories
  • From 1st January 2013 Sainsbury's is increasing the price paid to British dairy farmers through the sustainable Cost of Production model – the standard litre price will rise to 31.59ppl. In May 2012 Sainsbury's Dairy Development Group famers voted in the sustainable cost of production model which pays a fair price while offering a bonus for animal welfare and environmental responsibility.
  • Sainsbury's is the UK's largest retailer of RSPCA Freedom Foods products selling 60% of all produced with over 300 lines.
  • Sainsbury's recently topped both the Dow Jones Sustainability Index and the FTSE4Good as the world's leading food retailer sustainability. Last week it was named Sustainable Retailer of the Year at the Retail Industry Awards.

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About the article

  • Posted on: 04 January 2013
  • Type of article: Press release

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