Branston’s group CEO, NFU’s net zero lead, and the boss of a year-round British strawberry producer offer their insights in the afternoon Sustainability session

Key players in eco-friendly production, precision farming, organic retail, and compliance are preparing to discuss the hot topics in sustainability at Festival of Fresh on 13 June.

The Sustainability session begins on the Inspiration stage at 2.15pm, straight after the lunch break and the penalty shootout in aid of FareShare. The full festival agenda can be found here.

The session features a number of industry figures at the forefront of making UK production and business practices more environmentally friendly.

It opens with a one-to-one interview with Branston’s Group CEO Jim Windle who tells us about the potato supplier’s recently opened protein extraction facility, as well as its progress towards other sustainability targets at a testing time for the British potato sector.

Next up is a panel with NFU’s net zero project delivery manager Kate Bannister and Richard Bonn of ESG advisory Aethr Associates. Between them, our speakers assess the fresh produce industry’s progress towards net zero targets, and what companies can do to reduce their environmental impact while also mitigating their risk from climate change.

After that, our attention turns to soft fruit, more specifically one producer’s efforts to grow British strawberries all year round. David Sanclement, CEO of The Summer Berry Company, tells us about the green energy solution that’s made 12-month production possible. And he gives his views on the prospect of a wider shift towards year-round production in the British berry industry.

Shifting the focus to vertical farming, Romy Wilkin of Jones food Company discusses the producer’s strategy of growing and selling vertically farmed salads and herbs as cheaply as possible.

She offers insight into how the business has succeeded when other vertical farms have failed; discusses the potential for vertical farms to replace imports in certain salads and herbs; and sets out the decision process when opening a new vertical farm, particularly in relation to renewable energy supply.

Closing the session, and the Festival of Fresh speaker programme, is Ed Ayton, sustainability and ethics advisor at Abel & Cole. He discusses the organic food delivery company’s meticulous sustainability strategy and how it is decided upon, measured and communicated with consumers.

Offering inspiration to other sustainably minded businesses, he also reflects on how Abel & Cole became a B Corp and the multiple benefits of the certification.

Festival of Fresh 2024 takes place on 13 June on the pitch at Evesham United Football Club, in association with Nationwide Produce.

Tickets cost just £190 and can be purchased here. There are discounts for groups of two or more attendees.