Food processing automation in Greater Lincolnshire

Industrial robotics, digitalisation and automation support the decarbonisation of the agri-food sector by optimising energy efficiency and recovery.

Greater Lincolnshire is at the heart of the UK food chain and the £125 billion UK agri-food industry.

A growing digitisation and automation capability is pioneering new technology, leading to a variety of projects, startups, technology companies and advisory services.

They’ll serve the UK’s largest concentration of food processing and logistics employers.

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Greater Lincolnshire, the UK’s ‘Food Valley’

Investment type:

Foreign direct investment


Clean agri-tech

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Sector and market opportunity

Companies based in this region can provide solutions across the food supply chain, addressing global labour, productivity, efficiency and cost challenges.

Opportunities exist to deliver robotics consultation, design, installation and maintenance services to some of the largest UK food companies.

Growth prospects

Greater Lincolnshire’s UK Food Valley has an unrivalled concentration of end-users committed to investing in world-best automation solutions.

This will provide a significant pipeline of future projects in seafood, poultry and fresh produce processing, plus the production of naturally healthy foods.


This is the centre of the UK’s food chain, somewhere that looks at every step of the manufacturing process. The area has a well-established food presence, with a growing focus on digitisation and automation.


Greater Lincolnshire is a strategic location benefiting from direct accessibility to and from mainland Europe. There are outstanding freight options with access to major ports including the UK’s largest port complex on the Humber.

The area is well connected to the rest of the UK’s road network and home to new Border Control Posts in Spalding and on the Humber with a focus on food trade. Some 30% of UK food logistics starts in or passes through Greater Lincolnshire.

It’s also near international logistics and passenger hubs including East Midlands Airport and Humberside Airport.

The region accounts for over 25% of UK rail freight. They also provide direct links to major cities in the UK including London.

Local talent and skills

The area has more than:

  • 4,000 high-technology agri-food SMEs
  • 75,000 workers employed in the agri-food sector

Research and expertise

The University of Lincoln and its industrial partners demonstrate a strong R&D capability, enabling companies to develop, validate and apply research within a commercial setting.

The region’s research assets are outstanding and include the Lincoln Institute for Agri-Food Technology (LIAT) and The National Centre for Food Manufacturing (NCFM).

Both are adept at partnering with industry to deliver cutting-edge innovation and support commercialisation of robotics, digitalisation and automation solutions.

Region Spotlight


The Midlands is at the forefront of technologies such as industrial digitisation, life sciences and alternative fuels. It's home to world-class assets and centres of innovative excellence. The region is ideally placed for the distribution of manufactured goods, reaching 92% of the UK population within 4 hours. Birmingham is at the heart of one of the UK’s largest infrastructure projects, HS2, and hosted the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

View all investment opportunities in Midlands

Enabling clean growth

The 10-point plan for a green industrial revolution sets out the approach government will take to accelerate the UK’s path to net zero by 2050.

The Food and Drink Federation aims to reach net zero by 2040.

The deployment of robotics, digitalisation and automation solutions in the agri-food supply chain will help deliver low carbon food chains through enhanced efficiency and reduced waste.

Local and national government support

Local councils support food chain growth with an enabling approach to planning and dedicated economic development officers who understand the food chain.

At Business Lincolnshire you can access business experts, support and guidance, and grants and finance.

Greater Lincolnshire LEP offers tailored, soft-landing packages for new investors, including:

  • relocation support
  • commercial property searches
  • local economic intelligence provision
  • introductions to local businesses and sector networking groups

Success stories


International food group Princes Limited, a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Corporation (Japan), employs 2,500 in the UK. Long Sutton in Lincolnshire is the firm’s largest UK food production site, manufacturing a range of canned products.

It is one of the largest employers in the area and its operations support hundreds of regional jobs in businesses and industries that provide raw materials and services. Princes invested £84m in the area in 2019/20.


Greencell, the UK’s leading avocado supplier, has been part of South Africa’s Westfalia since 2008 and has a strong reputation for supplying fresh fruit and vegetables to the UK market.

Production facilities in Spalding, Lincolnshire, include Greencell’s Centre of Excellence for avocado ripening, handling, packing and distribution.

Saga Robotics

Norway’s Saga Robotics is responsible for the design, development and production of the world-leading agricultural robot, Thorvald.

The company has established a UK subsidiary at the University of Lincoln’s Riseholme Campus and has grown a team of more than 25 there, co-located with the Lincoln Institute of AgriFood Technology.

Take advantage of this opportunity to expand your business in the UK

Find out how