Robots Netherlands

Source: OAL

The £2m Souper Green project is being undertaken in partnership with Olympus Automation

M&S and its own-label manufacturer Solina have launched a two-year project to reduce the amount of energy used in the production of soups and sauces.

The £2m Souper Green project, in partnership with robotic food processing system firm Olympus Automation, involves ‘robot chefs’ and steam infusion to help “reduce energy consumption, maximise resource efficiency, and cut carbon emissions”.

The system on trial – known as the APRIL Robotic Cooking System – makes use of a lightweight cooking vessel, for more efficient heating and easier cleaning, leading to an 80% energy savings in trials. Additionally, the system’s accurate robotic ingredient weighing system minimises ingredient waste.

“People had been building manufacturing plants without any consideration for energy efficiency,” said OAL director Jake Norman. “But with the Ukraine war and the impact of that on energy prices, manufacturers realised they were spending a hell of a lot on energy, three or four or more times more than they really need to.”

“With the use of robotics and automation we can produce soups and sauces very efficiently, and with a one-person operation,” Norman told The Grocer.


The Souper Green project is part of the government-backed Industrial Energy Efficiency Accelerator programme.

The project builds on OAL’s 2015 APRIL (automated processing robotic ingredient loading) project, which aimed to develop the world’s first robotic-based food processing system. The system is currently operational at a production facility of the largest manufacturer of Asian-inspired sauces in the Netherlands and Europe, Go-Tan. The system produces 2.4 tonnes of chilli sauce per hour.

The steam infusion element of the system reduced the cook time for a 500kg batch from more than an hour to less than eight minutes. It can be operated by two workers versus the 10 needed before, with losses of the product yield down from 5% to less than 1%.

The Department for Energy Security & Net Zero-funded IEEA programme supports industrial scale demonstrations of novel technologies that can reduce energy consumption, maximise resource efficiency, and cut carbon emissions. It’s also part of Innovate UK’s Scaleup Programme.

“At this moment, things are very much aligning around sustainability, energy reduction and automation across the industry,” Norman added.