Tesco has called on the UK government to ‘unlock innovation’ in UK food supply chains as it awards £750,000 to the winners of its innovation accelerator programme.
The innovation accelerator programme, which is run in partnership with conservation and wildlife charity WWF, pairs pioneering supply chain start-ups with Tesco suppliers as the supermarket giant looks to fast-track sustainability innovation throughout its supply chain.
In total, five start-ups won up to £150,000 each in funding, as well as the chance to test and scale their innovation in Tesco’s supply chain. They included bioacoustic technology which monitors pollinators and pest levels, using birdsong as a science-based biodiversity indicator and low-carbon fertilisers.
The winning innovations will be trialled in the Tesco supply chain.
“To create a food system that provides healthy, sustainable and affordable food for all, the whole sector needs to find ways to innovate fast”, said Tesco’s responsible sourcing director Giles Bolton, who said that the quality of the pitches “showed the breadth of innovation that is already going on in our food system”.
As part of the programme, Tesco and WWF are also calling on the government to update current outdated regulations. These can make it difficult to scale up supply chain innovations, such as using insect protein in animal feed or sustainable low-carbon fertilisers.
They are also asking for an incentive programme for businesses and consumers who are early adopters of new food system innovations which help cut the environmental impact of the average shopping basket and support a resilient and sustainable UK food system.
WWF’s director of food strategy, David Edwards, said: “In a climate and nature crisis, we urgently need to find more sustainable ways to grow enough affordable food for everyone.
“The winning projects represent huge potential to help create a food system that restores nature and protects our climate. We look forward to seeing the results of the pilots and hope they will demonstrate how innovative ideas can be scaled up to make a positive impact in the supply chain.”