Tag Archives: Waitrose

Waitrose to trial small farm robots

The John Lewis Partnership has announced a three-year trial with the start-up agri-tech business Small Robot Company, which will see the use of ‘autonomous farmbots’ Waitrose & Partners’ Leckford Estate in Hampshire.

During the trial, the Small Robot Company’s three small robots; Tom, Dick and Harry, will l test their state-of-the-art learning and farming technology on a one-hectare field of wheat. Initially a prototype Tom robot, which is fitted with cameras and weighs just ten kilograms, will gather topographical data, eventually creating a plant-by-plant view of the field. The Small Robot Company can then further develop its machine learning systems, while building also new prototype robots.

The data gathered by the Tom robot will be used to develop an AI system called Wilma, which will eventually guide the three robots, allowing them to farm autonomously. As well as increasing precision, efficiency and productivity, the small robots are expected to deliver considerable environmental benefits, such as reduction in compaction and soil damage.

Andrew Hoad, Partner & Head of the Leckford Estate, commented, “The Waitrose & Partners farm has a long history in producing a wide variety of high quality crops. We work hard to farm in harmony with the environment and our vision for sustainable farming is aligned to what the Small Robot Company is trying to achieve.”

Sam Watson Jones, co-founder of Small Robot Company and a fourth generation Shropshire farmer, added, “Together, we will be working to re-imagine food production. We’re on the cusp of a fourth agricultural revolution, taking farming into the digital age, with British ideas and British technology at the helm.”

Photo caption: Artist’s impression of the Tom robot in action

Photo Credit: Small Robot Company

The post Waitrose to trial small farm robots appeared first on Hort News

Waitrose looking for food innovation

Waitrose has joined forces with its sister company John Lewis to create the UK’s largest retail tech accelerator: JLAB 2017.

The announcement came as the John Lewis Partnership opened the call for applications for JLAB 2017, its global start-up accelerator programme, which is run in association with innovation specialists L Marks. Now in its fourth year, this year’s JLAB sees Waitrose joining the programme, which this year is focusing on enhancing customer experience and is inviting early-stage and high-growth companies.

A new category of Amazing Food Experiences has been added, with the application website saying, “There is a growing potential to enhance customer experience in food shopping and food service. We are looking for start-ups which will help us serve food to our customers in more convenient, exciting and innovative ways.”

Throughout the twelve-week programme, which commences in July, applicants will receive support from senior level mentors and free workspace in John Lewis’s head office in Victoria and Waitrose’s head office in Bracknell. Participating companies will also have access to industry knowledge and expertise from across the John Lewis Partnership.

Start-ups participating in JLAB will also have access to capital from the dedicated microfund provided by the John Lewis Partnership and L Marks. Each team will be eligible to apply for funding of up to £100,000 from the total pot of £200,000, in exchange for equity in their company.

Photo Caption: Waitrose is looking to enhance the customer experience in food shopping

Photo Credit: Waitrose

The post Waitrose looking for food innovation appeared first on Hort News.

Waitrose launches UK salad bag

A new state-of-the-art 1.5 hectare greenhouse complex in Evesham is helping retailer Waitrose to stock British salad leaves all year round.

The new glass, which has been developed by Wingland Foods uses efficient LED lighting, heating and watering, reducing the environmental impact.  It takes 35-40 days to grow the salad in these conditions compared to up to 16 weeks in the field so the yield is almost three times higher over the course of a 12 month period.

The first salad to be produced is Waitrose’s British Chard & Salad Leaves bag, making the supermarket the first supermarket of the year to introduce a UK grown salad bag, available three months earlier than the usual May-October season.

Nicola Waller, Waitrose Head of Fresh Produce, said, “This launch is a result of our long term planning and it’s great to see the first of our British salad bags hitting the shelves so early in the season. Developing this innovative new way of growing salad leaves means that we can source from the UK all year round, going even further in our commitment to British farming.”

The salads are also grown to LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) Marque Standards.

The post Waitrose launches UK salad bag appeared first on Hort News.

Are you an innovative farmer?

Are you interested in innovation and trying new techniques? Do you perform your own on-farm trials or develop novel solutions to practical problems? If so, you might be eligible to take part in the Innovative Farmers programme.

Part of the Duchy Future Farming Programme and funded by the Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation, the scheme aims to bring together and support farmers who want to test the latest thinking on their farm. The network is backed by a team from LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming), Innovation for Agriculture, the Organic Research Centre and the Soil Association, and supported by Waitrose.

It works by bringing together groups of farmers with researchers from top agricultural institutions in practical ‘field labs’. This means you can get reliable results and practical solutions to the challenges your business is facing. Over the last three years 750 farmers and growers have been involved in 35 different field labs covering topics from antibiotic use in dairy cattle to controlling blackgrass.

Half the farmers who have taken part say they have made changes to their farming practices as a result of being involved in the field labs, with nine out of ten saying they learned something from the experience.

Membership of the scheme costs £240 plus VAT per year, although sponsorship of up to £2,000 may be available for groups of up to 24 farmers. Participating groups can get up to £10,000 research funding per field lab.

The scheme can match farmers and growers with the necessary expertise and interest to set up a new field lab, or put them in touch with an appropriate existing one. For more information on the scheme, visit: www.innovativefarmers.org

This post first appeared on HortNews.

Waitrose under fire for supplier payments

According to newspaper reports, Waitrose is simplifying its terms of payment to speed up the time it takes to pay smaller suppliers after an internal review indicated that, following a change to Tesco’s payment terms, the upmarket supermarket was taking longer than its rivals to pay some suppliers.

An anonymous supplier to both Tesco and Waitrose told The Times, “I used to be on 60 days [payment duration]with Tesco, but now I am on 14 days. I am on 45 days with Waitrose and it nearly kills me sometimes.”

Waitrose director of commercial operations is leading the payment review and has said that the review process could run for many months.

Delayed and rebated payments are one of the most common issues raised with the Groceries Code Adjudicator and it is believed that accounting for rebates and supplier payments was at the heart of Tesco’s accounting scandal which broke last year.

The post Waitrose under fire for supplier payments appeared first on Hort News on 22 January 2016.

Waitrose moves to 100% UK sweetcorn

West Sussex based Barfoots has begun harvesting the English sweetcorn crop and the weather has helped supermarket Waitrose which is preparing to stock 100 per cent fresh British sweetcorn over the next couple of months.

Workers at Sefter Farm near Bognor Regis began harvesting the first of the crop at the end of July. Despite the weekend’s rainy weather, the glorious temperatures in June made for perfect growing conditions, resulting in a bumper crop of British sweetcorn.

Patrick Keane, Waitrose buyer commented, “All eyes are on South America this summer when it comes to food, home to some of the tastiest sweetcorn recipes, but with our own sweetcorn tasting this good, Bognor is giving Brazil a run for its money! Sweetcorn is robust enough to cook on the barbecue and makes great finger food, which is what the summer dining is all about.”

The post Waitrose moves to 100% UK sweetcorn appeared first on Hort News.

Early UK tomato season

Retailer Waitrose hailed the start of the English tomato season on 21 April, saying that thanks to the ‘spring heatwave’ its first English tomatoes of the year are available and in larger quantities than usual at the start of the season.

The English-grown tomatoes included the varieties Jack Hawkins which are large, sweet and juicy tomatoes — perfect for slicing, Red Choice better known as the connoisseur’s tomato with its luxurious aroma and Baby Plum, the tiny sweet and juicy variety.

The tomatoes are grown in greenhouses by Waitrose growers up and down the country and are hand-picked to ensure they reach shopper’s plates in perfect condition.

Peter Cooke, Waitrose Vegetable Buyer comments; “Our customers can choose from a wide variety of home grown tomatoes and in bigger quantities than this time last year.  Tomatoes are so versatile but the best way to enjoy this early season crop is to serve simply in a salad with a drizzle of olive oil. There is no better way to make the most of this fantastic spring weather.”

The post Early UK tomato season appeared first on Hort News.