Innovative agricultural project to get the best out of Kent cherries

Katherine Moss

Researchers from the School of Biosciences have been awarded funding of over £300, 000 from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to develop a new approach to using fruit waste to create new healthy foods, while reducing food waste and carbon emissions.

Through the ‘Upcycled Food: Getting the Goodness out of Kent Cherries’ project, Dr Marina Ezcurra and Dr Jenny Tullet will collaborate with Michael Dallaway, owner of Kent cherry grower Rent a cherry tree, to determine the health benefits of a variety of Kent cherry products and develop new foods from cherry waste.

As cherries are primarily sold as high-class fresh fruit, those that are bruised, soft or discoloured are often deemed unfit to sell by supermarkets. The project aims to reduce ‘waste cherries’ which are currently sent to landfill, negatively impacting productivity, carbon emissions and sustainability.

With Kent being the largest cherry producer in the UK, this project will lead the way in creating a more sustainable and innovative cherry industry. It will provide Michael and other local growers with strong scientific knowledge on their products, helping local businesses capitalise on a growing consumer demand for healthy and sustainable products. Findings from the project will provide a major opportunity for local growers to expand by targeting a wider customer-base.

This funding success is part of Kent’s wider focus on addressing real-world challenges and finding solutions to the urgent environmental issues facing the world today through the Positive Environmental Futures Signature Research Theme. This innovative, creative and inclusive community is designed to be responsive to environmental challenges and pro-active in its use of collaborative knowledge to affect positive change.

Rent a cherry tree is a Growing Kent & Medway business partner, and has received support from the Growing Kent & Medway team to apply for this funding. Find out more about the Growing Kent and Medway Project here.

More information about the UKRI funding programme can be found here.