5. THE INNOVATION AWARD

SPONSORED BY COVERIS

Have you made a major breakthrough in innovation this year? Perhaps you’ve developed a new way of growing or harvesting your crops, come up with an imaginative product or packaging format or found a business approach that nobody has thought of before? This award will crown the outstanding new example of innovation seen in the past year.


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1. Specialbuy Roses (Aldi)

As the fastest-growing retailer in the UK, our long-term strategy is to make Aldi’s unique combination of award-winning quality at everyday low prices available to as many people as possible.  

We wanted our horticulture offering to bring something new and exciting to our customers and the launch of our preserved roses for Valentine’s Day has certainly delivered. The beautiful arrangement of 12 preserved red roses launched on Sunday 3rd February online and allowed customers across the UK to have the on-trend Specialbuy delivered straight to their door. 

The product was developed by Aldi floral designers who worked closely with the supplier to ensure the roses were grown to achieve uniformity in size and colour. The roses were sourced from Iluba farm, a lovely, small, family-run, South African rose farm specialising in fresh rose preservation. The unique and delicate preservation process sees the fresh-cut roses treated with a solution whilst at their most beautiful, which stops the growth of the rose in its most perfect state. Lasting up to a year and available for just £49.99, the dozen carefully selected red roses were encased in a deluxe, elegant gift box. Benchmarked against the luxury brand Fleurs De Paris ‘Infinity Collection’, the comparative saving was 58%. 

The clean, classic packaging truly highlights our customer promise to offer amazing quality at everyday low prices. It added value and differentiated ourselves in a competitive market environment. British customers loved them – selling out online in just four days.


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2. Vegan Ice Cream (Blue Skies)

 With the cloud of uncertainty around Brexit, businesses are nervous about the future. However, in 2018 Blue Skies shrugged off the grey clouds and doubled down on new innovation by introducing two brand-new, first to market, frozen desserts. 

First, we introduced our dairy-free, vegan ice cream, made with fresh fruit and creamy coconut milk, all expertly picked, prepared and blended in Ghana to lock in the freshness and then transported to markets locally, in the UK, and in South Africa.  

These products have been a huge success, exceeding ROS hurdle rates for the buyer at Ocado, winning almost every taste test we enter (Great Taste, Q Awards, Grocer New Product Awards), and achieving exceptional review scores (our Chocolate & Orange flavour has 16 reviews on Ocado, 15 of which are 5*!)

The second innovation was our refreshingly natural fruit ice lollies. Again, we used our vast experience to source only the best ingredients from local farmers in Ghana, which we pick and press in as little as 24 hours after harvest, giving our lollies a super fresh and fruity taste. These are then transported to the UK market where we have secured distribution in 500+ Tesco stores.

Both of these amazing desserts are produced in Ghana, in line with our ethos of adding value at source. Each purchase also supports the Blue Skies Foundation which funds local projects in Ghana and around our other sites to help improve the lives of the people in our neighbouring communities.


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3. CartonPET (Carton Pack)

CartonPET® is made by processing 100% foodgrade recycled PET, and is 100% recyclable itself.

It’s features include:
•Higher thermal insulation of fresh produce
•-20% weight compared to same RPET model
•Water resistant
•Easy to dispose (-75% space)
•-20% plastic used
•Green appeal, smooth surface, similar to cardboard.


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4. fresh & naked (G’s) & Growing Underground

The collaboration between baby-leaf salad brand fresh & naked (F&N) and urban farming start-up Growing Underground (GU). Launched nationally with Tesco in April – July 2019, the limited edition “Urban Mix” went into stores for the start of the UK salad season. The unwashed bagged salad mix comprised of GU pea shoots, with F&N adding apollo, baby red leaf and spinach to the collaboration resulting in a mild and delicate mixed leaf salad, with a splash of colour.

This was the first-time shoppers had the opportunity to pick up Growing Underground product consistently in retail stores outside of the M25. The concept was developed to broaden the appeal of urban-grown products to a mass consumer audience, allowing the urban farming story to be told. The benefit for F&N is a broadening of the sustainable aspects of the brand and a link with an on-trend developing farming methodology. This was a first to market, of this type of collaboration between a traditional growing and indoor LED-grown salad businesses.

Fresh & naked, launched in 2010, is a leading UK fresh produce brand that packs unwashed baby-leaf salads exclusively for Tesco, by G’s Fresh. Growing Underground is a data-driven, controlled environment, ag-tech business. It repurposes redundant space to create more fertile land. It’s first farm (London’s premier urban farm) sustainably grows mouth-wateringly fresh micro herbs and baby-leaf salad in disused tube tunnels, 33 meters below Clapham High Street using hydroponic growing techniques and LED lighting.


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5. Love Beets Pouches (G’s)

G’s Fresh, the leading supplier of beetroot in the UK, has collaborated with industry experts to develop and launch an innovative new pouch in the fresh beetroot fixture used in the ‘Love Beets no vinegar pouch’. The pouch packaging is able to perform well in the thermal processing method required to give the product a sustainable refrigerated shelf life of more than 10 days (P+14, D+11), greater than comparable products on the market. The Love Beets packaging also performs well past the recommended usage date, with no sign of yeasts or moulds. Once opened the product has a further three days life when stored correctly in the fridge. 

Other comparable (non-sterilised) cooked vegetable products, such as pickled beetroot or pickled vegetables, use preserving agents or additives such as potassium sorbate, salt (in brine) or vinegars. Due to the unique in-pouch cook capabilities of the packaging, Love Beets can produce an additive and vinegar-free product whilst delivering all the convenience of a prepared, ready-to-eat product.

An additional benefit for consumers is the no-mess, leak-free solution the pouch provides. Pouch beetroot is the only beet product beyond traditionally messy vacuum packaging that is a cooked, ready-to-eat vinegar-free method. As well as providing a splash of colour and excitement in the beetroot fixture, the conveniently sized pack also provides consumers with three of their 5 A Day in one tasty pouch.


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6. Plastic Reduction (Wealmoor)

At Wealmoor we are passionate about reducing our impact on the planet and work hard to ensure that we lead the industry on positive change and continuous improvement.

One of the areas which has been a key focus for us is plastics and innovating to change what we do to reduce our use of this within our supply chains to more sustainable options. As a responsible business, we know that where we are currently using polystyrene we need to look for alternatives that are not destined for incineration or landfill. We are excited to be the first to announce a new solution for our herb boxes, moving away from polystyrene to a polypropylene box which has all of the following great benefits: a reduction in carbon footprint; it is 100% recyclable so no need to incinerate or landfill; it is lighter in weight and can be flat packed and reduces the amount of unused transported space, meaning a saving on logistics and storage.

It’s a change for the delivery of herbs into the markets which we are excited to be leading whilst at the same time making a positive impact on the planet.