LONDON – Kate Hofman, founder of the pioneering GrowUp Farms, the first vertical farm to have a branded bagged salad in major UK supermarkets (Tesco and Iceland), has won two major awards at the prestigious 2023 Great British Entrepreneur Awards.
The awards scooped by the food and social impact entrepreneur were the Sustainability Entrepreneur of the Year and the Equity-backed Entrepreneur of the year.
Now in its 11th year, and previously described as “The Grammys for Entrepreneurship”, The Great British Entrepreneur Award (GBEA) winners were named on November 20th at a ceremony at London’s Grosvenor House, and recognise exceptional entrepreneurial spirit, dedication, and remarkable achievement within their industry. They celebrate the outstanding individuals and businesses that drive innovation, generate employment opportunities, and contribute to the growth of the UK economy.
In the past 10 years, the pioneering founder of GrowUp Farms, Kate Hofman, has taken the concept of vertical farming from a small urban farm in London, to a huge vertical farm in Kent. This farm, which is backed by £100 million investment, was the first vertical farm to sell a branded bagged salad in major UK supermarkets, with the launch earlier this year of their two award-winning salads: Unbeleafable, which is in Tesco stores nationwide, and Fresh Leaf Co., which is in Iceland and Food Warehouse stores.
GrowUp Farms is also unique among UK vertical farms because it uses on-site renewable heat and power and can therefore grow food with a lighter environmental footprint.
The growth and success of GrowUp Farms has taken place in a decade of increasing concern about UK food production. The UK relies on importing 67% of the salad we eat each year, and over 90% in the winter. This year saw a 40-year low in domestic salad production – due mainly to soaring energy costs – and that, coupled with the UK’s over-reliance on other countries for its salad vegetables supplies, led to high-profile shortages in UK supermarkets.
“I am very proud to have won these two awards at the Great British Entrepreneur Awards and am accepting them on behalf of the wider team at GrowUp Farms, which has spent 10 years developing the technology and expertise to get to this point: growing salad leaves in the UK year-round commercially” said Hofman.
“Winning awards is hugely gratifying because it allows us to sit back for a moment and appreciate how much we have achieved – and what all the hard work has been for. Our salads are also winning product awards – which is fantastic! This recognition by the Great British Entrepreneur Awards is incredibly encouraging and motivating for us all and gives us the impetus to keep striving.
“Our R&D team is already solving some of the challenges that will allow us to grow other crops such as identifying heritage seed varieties that can’t be grown conventionally and improving the growth cycle of certain plants. Vertical farming is very much a long-term solution to the problems we are seeing.”
The GBEA judges said: “GrowUp Farms has a remarkable story showcasing an incredible female entrepreneur, Kate Hofman, with a clear vision and a well thought out plan for the future. The business itself is truly terrific, reflecting remarkable determination and skill, leading to significant investment and growth.
“GrowUp Farms is an inspiring story of innovation in sustainable farming. The judges commended the fantastic idea and remarkable business growth, noting that vertical farming represents the future of agriculture, allowing for a reduction in land usage while contributing to the development of biodiversity.”
For more information about the Great British Entrepreneur Awards, please visit www.greatbritishentrepreneurawards.com.
To learn more about GrowUp Farms, visit https://growupfarms.co.uk
Pioneering vertical farm, GrowUp Farms, has won two accolades at the food and drink industry’s most prestigious awards.
GrowUp Farms’ Unbeleafable rocket and baby leaves scooped the Champion of the Deli award at The Grocer’s New Product and Packaging Awards 2023 this week.
The rocket and baby leaves are one of three new bagged salads in the Unbeleafable range, which is the first-ever salad range produced by a vertical farm to be sold in a major supermarket. As well as rocket and baby leaves, there are crisp green leaves and mixed baby leaves and the full range of three salads is available in selected Tesco stores across the UK.
The panel of judges said they were won over by the concept of Unbeleafable – a longer life ready-to-eat bagged salad, produced by a vertical farm and grown all year round in the UK. They applauded GrowUp Farms for their ambition to reduce the UK’s reliance on salad imports. They also said that they enjoyed the story, design and personality of this “fab innovation” and that the inclusion of rocket gave the salad a great peppery kick and “flavour hit”.
GrowUp Farms’ second salad brand, Fresh Leaf Co. red + green baby leaf salad, which is available to buy in selected Iceland stores, won the Silver Award in the Deli Category.
Both salads are grown without using pesticides and are not chlorine washed unlike other bagged salads; processes that degrade the quality of salad leaves. And for this reason, the leaves are tastier, crisper and stay fresher for longer than other ready-to-eat salads sold in UK supermarkets, which means Unbeleafable salad is less likely to be thrown away, helping people to cut down on food waste linked to bagged salads.
The salads are also longer lasting as they are grown and packed in Kent, thereby shortening the supply chain, and are grown using 94% less water than bagged salads produced from a field or greenhouse.
Reflecting on GrowUp Farms’ success at the awards, Kate Hofman, founder of GrowUp Farms, said: “It has been a fantastic year for the team at GrowUp Farms with the launch of Unbeleafable, the first salad range to be grown commercially in a vertical farm and stocked by a major supermarket, such as Tesco. Also, getting Fresh Leaf Co. on to the shelves in Iceland has been a great coup too.
“The Grocer New Product and Package Awards are the most respected awards in the food and drink industry, and all of the brands want to get their hands on a New Product gong – and we have two! It’s also a real boost to see that the judges were unanimously impressed by our ambition to play a role in reducing the UK’s reliance on salad imports. What a way to end the year.”
The Grocer editor-in-chief and event host Adam Leyland said: “Innovation is alive and well. There is some fantastic innovation in grocery FMCG and it makes me feel excited about the future.
“These awards are an incredibly important reminder to retailers – and shoppers – of the fantastic innovation in which brands big and small are engaged: enriching the lives of customers, who look to brands, as much as they do to the supermarkets, to innovate and excite them, while providing much-needed revenue, and differentiation, and quality, to the grocers.”
Unbeleafable rocket and baby leaves is part of the Unbeleafable salad (90g) range, which includes crisp green leaves and mixed baby leaves. All three products retail at £1.50 and are available at Tesco stores.
Fresh Leaf Co. red + green baby leaf salad (70g) retails at £1 and is available at selected Iceland and Food Warehouse stores.
Instagram – @Unbeleafableuk
TikTok – @Unbeleafableuk
Facebook – @Unbeleafableuk
X (formerly Twitter) – @Unbeleafableuk
Fresh Leaf Co.
Facebook – @freshleafcouk
Instagram – @freshleafcouk
Pioneering vertical farm, GrowUp Farms, has won the Climate Award (a Sustainability Excellence Award) in this year’s Fresh Produce Consortium Fresh Awards. The Fresh Produce Consortium Fresh Awards features a range of categories that recognise and celebrate all aspects of fresh produce, honouring the industry’s best.
GrowUp Farms, which is the first vertical farm to launch branded salads into major UK supermarket groups and has the Unbeleafable salad range in Tesco stores nationwide, was announced as a winner in a glittering awards ceremony in London on 29 September.
GrowUp Farms was one of 14 contenders for the three awards up for grabs in the Sustainability Excellence category. The Climate Award is presented to a business that is “driven to preserve, protect and enhance our living environment, halting or reversing land degradation, understanding ecosystem services or adopting water optimisation techniques”.
The judges said: “The GrowUp Team has worked ambitiously over the last 10 years; making great progress to produce quality food without harming the environment.”
Kate Hofman, who co-founded GrowUp Farms ten years ago, said: “We are over the moon to win the Climate Award in these prestigious awards, and this win reflects the hard work, passion and dedication of the entire GrowUp Farms team, both at Peppernessin Kent and also at our R&D facility, the Leaf Lab in Cambridge.
“At Pepperness, we’re growing salad that stays fresher for longer, helping shoppers cut down on food waste and save money. Pepperness, our state-of-the-art controlled environment farm in Kent represents a significant shift for the UK salad supply chain – at full capacity, a bag of ready-to-eat salad from Pepperness has 93% fewer embodied carbon emissions than the average bagged salad that you’d buy in the shops today.
“We are a certified B-Corp, and we are now focusing on reducing GHG emissions elsewhere in our operations and supply chain by optimising our production and improving our packaging.”
This is the first major award won by the company, which is up for a total of 9 other awards to be announced between now and the end of the year.
Members of the Lords Horticultural Sector Committee visited pioneering Kent-based vertical farm, GrowUp Farms, in Sandwich this week to find out about how vertical farming will play a key role in the future of farming.
Lord Carter, Lord Colgrain, Lord Coles, Baroness Fookes, Lord Redesdale and Baroness Walmsley visited the farm – called Pepperness – which is leading the charge in vertical farms in the UK as it was the first to sell its salad ranges through UK supermarkets.
The House of Lords Horticultural Sector Committee was created in April this year to produce a report on the horticultural industry. A 12-strong committee from all parties including crossbenchers is considering the challenges faced by the sector, which is worth billions to the UK economy and is a significant contributor to UK food security.
GrowUp Farms is the UK’s leading vertical farm, and launched its Unbeleafable salad range in Tesco stores in July this year.
A vertical farm is an innovative agricultural system, designed to grow crops in vertically stacked layers in a controlled indoor environment. The growing process means that salad can be grown year-round in the UK and uses up to 94% less water than traditional growing.
Pepperness grows the salad without the need to use pesticides of any kind, nor does it need chlorine-washing, in fact the salad doesn’t need to be washed at all before eating – all processes which degrade the quality of the leaves. The supply chain is significantly reduced, so the salad only travels from Kent to UK supermarkets, rather than from overseas. It tastes fresher and crisper and lasts longer than other salads, which means there’s less waste produced too.
“We’re very proud of what we are achieving here at Pepperness, and the part we’re playing in the future of food security for the UK” said Kate Hofman, founder and Chief Brand Officer of GrowUp Farms. “Currently the UK imports around 67% of its salad from warmer climates, and this rises to 90% in the winter*, so vertical farms can help the UK to be more self-sufficient in producing food.”
“We were delighted to welcome the House of Lords Horticultural Sector Committee to Pepperness, and we very much support the inquiry into the considerable challenges facing this sector, not least the effects of climate change.
“We grow, harvest, and pack our salads for supermarkets across the UK, all at Pepperness in Kent. The farm’s highly controlled environment simulates a beautiful Mediterranean spring day, every day, providing the perfect growing conditions for salad.”
Lord Redesdale, Chair of the Committee, said: “Horticulture is worth billions to the UK economy. From healthy fruit and vegetables to the multitude of crop and plant varieties that can be grown in the UK, it is a fundamental component of a secure food supply, supports the wellbeing of millions of people, and could provide innovative solutions to the challenges presented by climate change. Despite this, horticulture has been continually overlooked and undervalued.
“As part of our inquiry, we were delighted to visit Pepperness and see how GrowUp Farms is putting real innovation into practice to build resilience into the UK horticulture sector.”
Pepperness was originally a brownfield site. Following £100m investment, GrowUp Farms is building the equivalent of 1000 acres of Grade 1 farmland on the site and has recently got the green light to further expand the farm, which will increase its output by 40%.
GrowUp Farms was the first vertical farm to sell a salad in a UK supermarket when it launched its first salad brand, Fresh Lead Co. into Iceland in February 2023. It is also the first to sell a vertical farm produced salad range in Tesco, with the launch of Unbeleafable in July.
Kate Hofman does have a wider message for the Government: “Although we are already producing food and selling it through the UK’s biggest supermarket, we are at a disadvantage compared to traditional growers when it comes to access to incentives. Vertical farms are treated as emerging technology which means we cannot benefit from the ‘Sustainable Farming Incentive’ in Environmental Land Management Schemes (ELMS), which traditional farmers receive to improve their practices.
“If vertical farming continues to be treated as an emerging technology, the government is missing an opportunity to grow the industry, create a sustainable supply chain and deliver the outcomes laid out in the government’s Environment Plan. The extension of ELMS to include vertical farming would create a level playing field for more farming techniques that produce high-quality food and take care of the environment.”
*British Retail Consortium
GrowUp Farms, which is the first vertical farm to launch branded salads into major supermarket groups, has its two new salad brands – Unbeleafable and Fresh Leaf Co. – shortlisted in the Deli Category of The Grocer New Product Awards. Unbeleafable and Fresh Leaf Co. are the only salad brands to be named as finalists in this category.
Unbeleafable has been named as a finalist in the Salad category of the Quality Food Awards too.
GrowUp Farms has also been nominated in four categories in this year’s Fresh Produce Consortium Fresh Awards. Chantelle Cohen, a vital member of the People team at GrowUp, has been nominated for Rising Star of the Year, while GrowUp has been shortlisted for three other categories, including Best Place to Work, Sustainability Excellence Award and Team of the Year award.
Kate Hofman, Founder and Chief Brand Officer, has been named as a finalist in the 2023 Barclays Entrepreneur Awards in the Sustainability Category. The awards spotlight entrepreneurs who are shaking up their industries, who bring positive change to the economy and society, and unleash innovation.
Also in the Barclays awards, GrowUp Farms has been shortlisted for the People’s Award, a unique category in the Barclays Entrepreneur Awards, which gives the public the opportunity to choose the winner.
Hofman has been nominated for a second award, making the shortlist for the prestigious 2023 Great British Entrepreneur Awards in two categories: the Sustainability Entrepreneur of the Year and the Equity-backed Entrepreneur of the year.
Described as “The Grammys for Entrepreneurship”, The Great British Entrepreneur Awards recognise exceptional entrepreneurial spirit, dedication, and remarkable achievement within their industry. They celebrate the outstanding individuals and businesses that drive innovation, generate employment opportunities, and contribute to the growth of the UK economy.
Hofman is a trailblazer in the vertical farm world; in the past 10 years, she, has taken the concept of vertical farming from a small aquaponic unit in London, to a significantly larger vertical farm, Pepperness, in Kent, which is unique among UK vertical farms because it uses on-site renewable energy and can therefore grow food with a lighter environmental footprint.
Earlier this year, this farm, which is backed by £100 million investment, became the first vertical farm to sell a branded bagged salad in a major UK supermarket with the launch of Fresh Leaf Co. into Iceland stores across the UK. Fast forward four months and GrowUp Farms, led by Hofman, launched the first range of salads grown in a vertical farm into Tesco stores.
Hofman said: “The last 10 years have been amazing. To think how much GrowUp Farms has grown from its humble beginnings in East London to securing a £100 million investment, building a new farm and launching the first vertically farmed salad brands into major supermarket groups – it’s been the most incredible journey.
“And to make the shortlist in five major awards is a real honour. The GBEAs and Barclays awards are much-coveted awards and The Grocer New Product Awards are the most highly sought-after accolades in the food and drink industry. The icing on the cake is our latest nomination in the Salad category in the Quality Food Awards. What a year 2023 has been and bring on November for when we find out how we have done in the six categories in the four different awards.”
The winners of The Grocer New Product Awards will be announced on 7 November, the GBEA awards on 20 Novembers, the Barclays Entrepreneur Awards on 29 November, the Quality Food Awards in November and the Fresh Produce Consortium Fresh Awards on 29 September.
GrowUp is thrilled to announce that both of their brands have been named finalists in The Grocer New Product and Packaging Awards 2023!
GrowUp’s newest salad launch, Unbeleafable, is a finalist in the Deli Category. Unbeleafable is a tasty, nutritious, and affordable salad that stays fresher for longer in y’fridge. The Unbeleafable rocket & baby leaves salad delivers crisp and delicious leaves, providing an ultimate salad sensation for their customers.
In an exciting twist of events, Fresh Leaf Co.’s red + green baby leaf salad has also sailed through to the finals in the Deli category. Fresh Leaf Co’s commitment to providing great quality salads at affordable prices has resulted in recognition as a finalist in the awards.
The Grocer New Product and Packaging Awards are an annual competition that celebrates the best products in different categories. The awards focus on innovation, taste, packaging, and product quality. The winners will be announced at the awards ceremony on Tuesday, 7th November 2023.