In 2023, Coles awarded grants to eight small and medium sized businesses which are implementing unique plans to improve sustainability, enhance animal welfare standards, significantly reduce food waste, and new innovation to divert waste from landfill. The grants bring the total financial support awarded by the Coles Nurture Fund to more than $33 million since 2015.
Bartle Frere Bananas will receive a $445,000 grant to invest in new technologies to develop a carbon neutral banana range while reducing runoff into the Great Barrier Reef. The project will include the ability to calculate real-time greenhouse gas emissions on the family owned and operated farm.
“This investment from Coles will help us invest in new technology that we will use to develop a carbon neutral banana range and deliver significant advances in reducing nutrient runoff into the Great Barrier Reef," said Gavin Devaney, owner of Bartle Frere Bananas.
Indigenous-owned family business Walaja Raw Bush Honey were awarded a $330,000 grant to create a new, medicinal grade, premium Melaleuca honey that is sustainably made on Yawuru Country in the West Kimberley region of Western Australia.
“This grant will make a huge difference to our company and hopefully the health and wellbeing for the many Australians who can purchase this unique Kimberley honey. The enzymes from the honeybees combined with the pure melaleuca nectar produce a natural antibacterial quality, which in turn gives this honey it’s medicinal properties. We’re confident this investment will also help enhance Indigenous knowledge and create local employment opportunities,” said founder David Appleby.
Food rescue charity, and Coles partner since 2011, SecondBite, was awarded a $500,000 grant to purchase critical equipment for its five warehouses across Australia. SecondBite Acting CEO Lucy Coward said the funds will help to increase the efficiency and capacity of its food sorting and distribution processes and allow for an additional three million kilograms of rescued food to reach vulnerable Australians each year.
"We are grateful to be recipients of the 2023 Coles Nurture Fund. These funds will allow us to rescue up to an additional three million kilograms of food from landfill, providing up to six million additional meals to food insecure Australians every year. With one in five Australians currently experiencing food insecurity, funds like these are vital to SecondBite being able to keep up with the growing demand,” said Lucy Coward.
Second generation farming family, Edson Piggery, will use a grant of $475,000 to build a new freedom Farrowing system for the sow and piglets. The new pens will provide higher animal welfare standards by allowing more space for the sow to move freely within the pen during her period of nursing and lactation.
“Receiving a grant from the Coles Nurture Fund has allowed us to take a proactive approach to sow and litter welfare. It will enable us to be competitive whilst providing a sustainable family farm, in terms of pigs, people and planet values,” said Brett, Director at Edson Piggery.
Bespoke Foods were awarded a grant of $450,000 to install manufacturing and freezing equipment to increase capacity, enhance efficiency, expand product range, improve product quality and reduce food waste. The project will support the continued utilisation of a broad size range of Australian sweet potato which in turn, will reduce produce wastage and optimise farming viability.
“From a farming heritage dating back to the 1930s, we are passionate about supporting the future of farming in Australia. We cannot be more appreciative to have the support of the Coles Nurture Fund grant to help us expand and achieve best environmental and manufacturing practices,” said Christina de Sousa, CEO at Bespoke Foods.
Mount Low, QLD
Atlas Soils in Queensland will use a $490,000 grant to help fund an initiative that combines innovative technologies to effectively track, store, recreate, and redistribute waste into various premium soil enhancement products for the region. This community led project aims to generate employment opportunities, minimise landfill waste, and restore the ecological health and productivity of local soils.
Jason Lange, one of three Directors at Atlas Soils said the funding signals that bigger businesses are prepared to back innovation in this space and will allow them to grow their impact and open up many more opportunities for the region.
“We believe very strongly that Townsville is placed to be a global leader in applied circular economy and we are proud to play a small part,” said Jason.
“We have worked with community and industry to propose a combination of solutions that allow us to produce a range of products and services from waste products like plastics, food waste, agricultural waste, and construction waste.
“Funding innovation in small business not only allows our cities to ‘get to the future first’ but it builds capacity and enthusiasm where it is needed the most.”
Esperance Bay Orchards from Tasmania have been awarded $440,000 to invest in Near Infrared technology that detects the internal quality of organic fruit and limits food waste by reducing rejections.
“Thanks to this generous grant from the Coles Nurture Fund we will become the world’s first organic apple pack house to use self-learning AI technology to reduce food waste, improve efficiency and ensure the fruit that makes it to the shelves is of the highest quality,” said owner Malcolm Francis.
McCormack Farms in Western Australia was awarded a grant of $500,000 to construct a fully covered cattle feeding facility that will create an in-house composting system to reduce methane, nitrogen, and carbon emissions.
Owner Stuart McCormack said the Nurture Fund has given their cattle business the confidence and energy to implement 'The Closed loop Beef Complex' which will reduce the environmental impact whilst improving product quality for a more sustainable future and the next generation.
“We sincerely thank Coles for this game changing funding, allowing us to hopefully play a role in helping the wider industry make adjustments to a more sustainable future. Without the Coles Nurture Fund we would not be able to bring our dreams and ideas into reality. We encourage other Australian farmers to apply for the Coles Nurture Fund,” he said.
“We look forward to working with Coles, supplying a quality product into the Coles Finest Carbon Neutral Beef brand for Australian families.”