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Aberdeenshire and Highland food and drink firms secure share of £160k funding for net zero projects

John Farley from Sutherlands of Portsoy, one of the businesses to receive funding
John Farley from Sutherlands of Portsoy, one of the businesses to receive funding

Food and drink businesses in the north and north-east are among the winners of a net zero funding award.

A total of 17 winning applications from across the country have been announced for the Scottish Food and Drink Net Zero Challenge Fund.

The £160,000 of funding will allow businesses to collaborate with Scottish universities on projects to accelerate their journeys towards net zero and to improve their environmental sustainability.

‘A win-win for all’

Three businesses from Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire have been selected to receive £30,000 of the funding as part of the industry-wide net zero commitment.

Grown Agritech Ltd has partnered with Aberdeen University to improve the effectiveness of indoor growing systems to make fresh produce available to local consumers.

The university will also work with north-east salmon smokehouse, Sutherlands of Portsoy, to investigate the chemical composition of alternative fish smoking material from food and drink waste.

John Farley, director at Sutherlands of Portsoy, said: “The Scottish Food and Drink Challenge Fund will allow us to investigate the potential to use waste products as alternative smoking materials from the food and drink industry.

“In repurposing this waste we will be creating a new revenue stream for our partners, innovating in our sector and benefitting the environment. It’s a win-win for all involved.”

Vertegrow, which runs Scotland’s first commercial vertical farm, is teaming up with Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) to develop a vertical farming carbon calculator, which will be used to guide decision making for its future operations.

Collaborating with others

Five business in the Highlands and Islands have also received grants as part of the fund, and will work with universities and the James Hutton Institute to deliver their projects.

Caledonian Seaweeds, Aurora Sustainability Group, North Uist Distillery, Highland Coast Hotels and Dunnet Bay Distillers will all receive a cut of the £160,000.

One of the projects will involve using spent barley grains from distilleries and breweries to generate a plant-based dairy alternative.

Jennifer McLachlan, strategy and external relations senior manager for Scotland Food and Drink, congratulated all the funding recipients.

She added: “Our industry-wide goal to reach net zero is ambitious, but by working closely with colleagues in academia, it is within our grasp.

“Food and drink businesses of all sizes have a role to play and innovation, like we’ve seen from the businesses receiving this funding, is happening across the sector.

“Reducing our carbon footprint isn’t just good for the environment, but it’s increasingly becoming a demand from consumers, retailers and wholesalers, so businesses need to adapt.

“Thankfully Scotland is already a leader in sustainable food production and with focused, collaborative efforts like the Net Zero Challenge Fund, we can protect both the planet and our bottom lines.”

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