Tesco, the UK’s largest grocer, has announced the participants for the chain’s fourth edition of its incubator programme, with plant-based firms prominent among the line-up.

Seven new companies feature in the group, along with three from last year’s round, although only six are present in consumer food products.

Plant-based confectioner Buttermilk, condiments business, Dr Will’s, frozen baker Northern Dough Co. and meat-free alternative brand This make up the new incubator cohorts in food, joined by Mara Seaweed and Simply Cook from the 2019 programme.

All participants receive a full-year of support and nurturing from Tesco’s product team including lessons on understanding the needs of customers and developing their brands based on customer insight.

Ashwin Prasad, Tesco’s chief product officer, said in a statement: “Now in its fourth year, our Incubator programme enables us to partner with some of the most exciting up-and-coming brands, who are at the very forefront of consumer trends including plant-based innovation and sustainability. It’s never been more important to support brands making their way in the retail sector and I hope all of this year’s intake can develop and grow in partnership with us.”

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By GlobalData

Buttermilk is a Cornwall-based vegan confectionery maker, which is joined by and Dr Will’s, a manufacturer of natural ingredient condiments. Preston-based Northern Dough produces frozen bakery doughs for use in products such as pizza.

London-based This has already secured prominent listings in the UK, including at Tesco, as well as other major grocers in the country, such as Sainsbury’s and Asda.

Mara Seaweed in Scotland makes condiments using the commodity, while Simply Cook is a London-based meal-kit business.

The remaining companies are in skincare, craft beers and personal care and hygiene.

From the just-food archive, May 2020: “Foodservice is the most exciting part of our outlook when Covid-19 clears” – Andy Shovel, co-founder of UK meat-free brand This, the bitesize interview