The awards formed part of a £1.2m package of grants given by the retailer to R&D projects across its supplier base, which were announced at it third annual farming conference on Friday (7 December). Fourteen projects were awarded an average of £120,000 each, with the aim to push innovation in improved animal health and welfare, reach 2020 targets, add efficiency and effectiveness into the end-to-end value chain, or projects to improve the quality, taste, consistency or freshness across the supply chain.
Judith Batchelar, director of Sainsbury’s Brand, said that ethical and sustainable sourcing could not be acheived without research and development and that the awards would set the scene for new collaborations, new partnerships and news ways of working. She said: “There is a huge amount of pure academic work which hasn’t been translated into practical interventions and some of these grants are about taking those and putting them into practice in a commercial situation, as well as pioneering research that we know will break new ground and help us answer some of the the questions and very real challenges that we face going forward.”
Randall Parker Food Group, along with lamb development group members Jake Freestone and Henry Dunn, won the grant for a project to improve flock health, while 2 Sisters, ADAS and the Sainsbury’s chicken development group, were awarded a grant to look at the global sustainable impact of feeding poultry to meet a set of challenges on interdependencies.
An award went to a project improving the consistency and eating quality of Angus-sired cattle entering the Sainsbury’s value chain, run by North Highland products and the Aberdeen Angus Cattle Society, while a project to develop the work already done on the Free Sow project, by selecting the right sow for free-farrowing systems, was won by Meryl Ward, Armine, Dave Morgain, DP Morgan, Paul Westgarth, HM Pigs and Newcastle University.
There was also an award for a pilot observational case control looking at the effects of foot-trimming lame sheep, which was awarded to Jake Freestone at Overbury Esate Farm and the Evidence Based Veterinary Consultancy (EBVC),
The Agricultural Supplier of the Year was awarded to the Traditional Norfolk Poultry company, which was commended for its forward vision and agricultural innovation in bringing the first differentiated chicken breed, the Norfolk black chicken, to the market in 50 years. ABP/Blade Farming were named as runners-up for their work on establishing Sainbsury’s higher-welfare veal.