innocent Drinks unveils winners of its £1m regenerative agriculture fund

5 June, 24

innocent Drinks has today announced the grant recipients of its Farmer Innovation Fund for 2024. Eleven winners have been selected to receive financial support for projects working to help safeguard the long-term supply of fruit and veg.

As a business passionate about bringing the goodness of fruit and veg to people, innocent has granted funding to suppliers spanning ten countries, growing eleven unique ingredients. Their projects address key agricultural challenges including soil health, biodiversity, climate change, and water use.

The announcement follows the relaunch of the fund in which innocent increased available funding to create a grant pot of £1 million for projects that support the transition to low-carbon farming, higher biodiversity and fairer farming practices. With over half of innocent’s carbon footprint coming from its ingredients, investing in innovative farming practices will be key to achieving a 50% reduction of its scope 3 emissions by 2030.

2024 Farmer Innovation Fund (FiF) Winners

Four of this year’s recipients are previous winners of the Farmer Innovation Fund, representing a commitment to invest in long-term partnerships that deliver tangible outcomes.

Agrarias Manchegas, grape supplier, Spain: A 2022 FiF winner, Agrarias Manchegas have plans to transform into a fully functioning smart farm. By using innovative technologies to advance agricultural practices across Spain. They aim to enhance soil management, crop health, water usage, and energy efficiency, leading to a more sustainable farming operation.

Time 4 Bee (part of the Doehler Foundation in Poland), apple supplier, Poland: As a FiF winner in 2022, Time 4 Bee will continue its plans to improve agricultural sustainability, increase biodiversity, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Piotr Podoba at Time 4 Bee commented: “Our project looks to create a significant reduction in the carbon footprint of apples as well as biodiversity improvements. We hope to have an influence on a portion on Poland’s farmers beyond only individual farms.

Frutilight, Pineapple supplier, Costa Rica: As a winner of the FiF in 2022, Frutilight plans to focus on a new project which will establish a biofertilizer plant specifically for pineapple cultivation.

Pixley Berries, blackcurrant supplier, United Kingdom: As a 2023 FiF winner, Pixley Berries will use bio-stimulant and a sensory device to look after blackcurrant crops over the next three years.

Anna Ralph at Pixley Berries commented: “Regenerative farming is a learning curve and being a winner for the second year running means we can advance our work to identify pragmatic approaches with deliverable benefits to blackcurrant growing and other crops. By combining biostimulants, measuring chlorophyll, microbials, and focusing on minimum cultivations we’re pioneering a new approach. Through this we hope to develop a revitalised agronomy fit for our times, both adapting to and mitigating climate change.”

There are also seven first-time recipients of the fund:

– Aspis, peach supplier, Greece: Aspis will conduct a lifecycle assessment of peaches, assessing and evaluating the CO2 footprint of each production stage of peach puree.

– GNT Group, carrot supplier, Netherlands, Belgium and Germany: GNT will work with select farmers to create plots of wildflowers, herbs and plants that attract pollinators and increase biodiversity.

– IBERFRUTA, peach supplier, Spain: IBERFRUTA will trial irrigation adjustments and install sensors to evaluate the physiological and agronomic behaviour of peach trees under deficit irrigation strategies.

– Mother Dairy, mango supplier, India: Mother Dairy will conduct a baseline report and educate farmers about the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on climate change and their livelihood.

– Sensus, chicory root fiber supplier, Netherlands: Sensus aims for 20-30% crop yield improvement by trialling seed-embedding technology to stimulate uniform crop growth, with the hope of reducing seed waste and soil disruption

– Sol Organica, passion fruit and dragon fruit supplier, Nicaragua: Sol Organica will implement the conversion of food waste into compost to reduce costs, sequester carbon and reduce methane emissions.

– SVZ, strawberry supplier, Spain: SVZ will implement a HIDRIX system to optimise water and fertiliser consumption, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving climate resilience in turn.

External Advisory Board

Crucial to making these decisions was innocent’s external advisory board of leading industry experts. The board assessed applicants alongside innocent’s internal Steering Committee to ensure funding was allocated effectively to the projects demonstrating a meaningful impact on farming and agricultural practices. Their expertise provided further guidance to applicants on how to increase efficiency and maximise the sustainability impact of their projects.

Nick Canney, CEO, innocent Drinks said: “We’re on a mission to help people live well through the delicious goodness of fruit & veg. Our Farmer Innovation Fund enables us to build meaningful partnerships with our suppliers to help make sure we can keep enjoying fruit & veg for years to come. This year’s winners are embarking on some truly innovative projects that show real potential for playing a part in the future of farming. I’m proud that we’re able to support them in delivering sustainable and healthy diets.”

innocent’s continued focus on investing in its supply chains will enhance its sustainable practices by restoring and revitalising land used by its farmers to grow fruit and veg. The business will monitor its funded projects and share the learnings with the wider industry to help further safeguard the long-term supply of fruit and veg.

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