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Nutrition Food innovation

A week in news: Netherlands welcomes a cultured meat milestone whilst the UK’s former food tsar launches green investment fund

4 min read
AUTHOR: Ross Carver-Carter
A crowd of tourists photographing the Mona Lisa painting

In food and drink this week, a new green investment fund for UK businesses is announced, the Netherlands moves one step closer to cultivated meat approval, and the Mona Lisa gets a makeover. Keep reading for a roundup of the most significant headlines from the past week.

Henry Dimbleby launches investment fund for sustainable food start-ups in the UK

The former food tsar and co-founder of the Sustainable Restaurant Association has announced his latest project, Bramble Partners, a venture capital firm to support businesses advancing healthy, sustainable food reform.

In a LinkedIn post announcing the new fund, Dimbleby said the global food system is “disastrous both for our bodies and our planet”, citing the fact that it represents the leading cause of deforestation, biodiversity loss, freshwater pollution, drought and second to energy, greenhouse gas emissions.

Setting out his mission statement, the author of the 2021 National Food Strategy took a jab at government inaction, saying: “We want to help UK entrepreneurs deliver what politicians have not yet been able to” and “work with a new generation of entrepreneurs to help transform the food system from within”.

Food giants Unilever and Doehler seek to scale precision fermentation-derived palm oil

Although it’s not yet been approved for food applications, leading brands including Unilever and Doehler are investing in precision fermentation-derived palm oils as they seek to reduce the environmental impact of conventional palm farming, a key driver of deforestation worldwide.

Commenting on its decision to invest $120m with biotech firm Geno, Unilever’s chief R&D officer Richard Slater said the move would make their supply chains more resilient whilst helping to drive “real impact and change” in the industry.

Sustainable food activists take aim at the Mona Lisa

French eco-activists representing the group Riposte Alimentaire (“Food Counterattack”) made a splash at the Louvre Sunday, launching pumpkin soup at Leonardo Da Vinci’s iconic Mona Lisa painting as part of a public stunt.

In video footage recorded shortly afterwards, two women are captured standing before the artwork saying: “What is more important? Art or the right to healthy and sustainable food? Your agricultural system is sick. Our farmers are dying at work.”

Writing on the social platform X, Riposte Alimentaire affirmed that they were behind the stunt, calling for the right to healthy and sustainable food through social security measures. It’s not the first time the painting has been targeted by environmental protestors. The Mona Lisa remains unharmed, thanks to a protective layer of bulletproof glass installed in 2019.

Aldi launches ‘Buy British’ section online to support UK suppliers

Aldi supermarkets have launched a “Best of British” section on their website in a bid to encourage consumers to buy from UK suppliers. The webpage includes a wide selection of UK-sourced groceries such as meat, dairy and a selection of everyday essentials, making it “even easier to buy British”.

Commenting on the new webpage, Aldi’s UK managing director Julie Ashfield said: “Our Best of British webpage aims to give our customers the chance to navigate British products more easily whilst supporting the thousands of local suppliers that we work alongside.”

Third of UK consumers are happy to pay more for quality service – despite the cost-of-living crisis

A report from the Institute of Customer Service reveals that a third of consumers (31.3%) are prioritising premium service – even if it comes at an extra cost. The findings come from the UK Customer Satisfaction Index, a bi-annual report based on 59,250 survey responses from more than 15,000 individual customers, representative of the UK adult population.

Commenting on the latest report, Jo Causon, CEO of the Institute of Customer Service, said: These latest figures are a clear signal to business leaders and board members that customer service is not an optional extra, but a strategic imperative.”

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