Two Scottish food & drink projects have been given the green light after landing £92,000 in funding from a nationwide competition.
Angus Growers, a syndicate of soft fruit growers, and the Farm Waste Utilisation Group, which is a syndicate of farms, have been awarded £42,000 and £50,000 respectively to work with academics from Edinburgh and Glasgow universities and research institutions to solve their collective challenges after winning Interface Food & Drink’s competition.
The soft fruit specialists will work with academics from Edinburgh Napier University, Heriot Watt University and the University of Edinburgh, as well as a craft distillery and a sweet manufacturer, to develop new techniques for alcohol and fuel production from soft fruit waste.
The Farm Waste group, which comprises farms in Forfar, Inverurie, Peterhead and Dingwall, will partner with academics from the University of Glasgow, University of the West of Scotland, Robert Gordon University and the University of Strathclyde to research methods of converting their waste into clean gases and liquid fuels.
Helen Pratt, project manager at Interface Food & Drink, said: “The entries showed particular strength and expertise in how the businesses and academics would work together and the immediate and longer-term benefits to the food and drink industry and beyond.
“In today’s farming environment, there is increasing pressure to reduce waste, so it’s interesting that both winning entries are for projects which aim not only to reduce waste, but also to convert it into a valued commodity which will benefit the environment and economy.”
The two winners were chosen from “a strong field of entries” and both will start their six-month projects, which Interface says could have far-reaching environmental and economic benefits, immediately.
William Houstoun, general manager of Angus Growers, said: “As fruit farmers supplying the major supermarkets we are always looking for ways to reduce waste, add value to what we produce and create good news to make the fruit we grow even more attractive to our customers.
“We are delighted at this opportunity to collaborate with academics from Scotland’s universities to develop techniques to turn low value and waste fruit into useful and exciting products.”
Farm Waste group member Matthew Steel of Craignathro Farms in Forfar said: “This is an exciting opportunity to look at how we could use wastes such as manure, woods and biomass residues to produce heat and electricity.
“If farms could turn waste into renewable energy sources through gasification, it would have huge economic and environmental benefits. Apart from the obvious savings on energy bills, it would solve the headache of waste going to landfill.”
Interface Food & Drink is funded by the Scottish Funding Council and was set up to promote partnerships between businesses and academics to drive innovation through knowledge exchange, collaboration and funding.
The five year project covers the whole of Scotland and the entire food chain, from primary agriculture and fishing, to production and processing, to retail and export.