Protein uppStarts

26 January 2023

EBC has backed Shropshire-based broccoli protein specialist, upp to support the commercialisation of the company’s unique harvest automation and upcycling technologies.

Growing to waste: The United Kingdom is one of the largest producers of broccoli in the world but is reliant on increasingly scarce and expensive labour to harvest broccoli heads by hand, leaving the remaining 80% of the food grade biomass (stem, stalk and roots) unused.

upp’s breakthrough harvesting equipment uses 3D cameras and machine learning to identify broccoli heads that are ready for harvesting even if they are partially obscured by leaves; a patented tractor-towed tool then cuts and lifts the whole plant onto a trailer where the heads are separated from the leaf and stalk. To the benefit of farmers, upp’s breakthrough harvest automation replaces seven seasonal agricultural workers, and can work at night, preventing wastage and increasing yields.

uppcycling™ : After the broccoli heads have been harvested and delivered to market, upp focuses on the 80% of the broccoli plant that would otherwise go to waste. This 80% is left for uppcycling™ into clean, natural, healthy proteins and ingredients.

David Whitewood, CEO of upp commented:  upp is all about making the most of the crops that we already grow. Upcycled broccoli is much more than a more environmentally friendly alternative to pea-protein, it is packed with health-promoting nutrients, fibre and is entirely natural. In a future market of bioreactor and lab grown alt-proteins, plant-based foods with good provenance, will attract a premium like organic grass-fed beef does today.”