Photo courtesy of Tesco

Retail roundup: Commercial crop of vertically grown strawberries hits Tesco stores

Produce Business report

Tesco is receiving the first commercial volumes of strawberries grown from a vertical farm via a production system that lessens both water usage and features a 90 per cent reduction in carbon footprint per kilo of fruit.

The fruit is being delivered by Direct Produce Supplies Ltd (DPS), a Tesco supplier for 40 years that has been trialling vertically grown strawberries for the past three years at their farm near Arundel, West Sussex.

Close to 1 million kgs of strawberries are set to hit supermarket shelves during the summer.

“Vertical crop production is a giant step for fresh produce growers in helping reduce their carbon footprint and use less water, at the same time boosting their yields,” Tesco fruit technical manager Sabina Wyant said. “For shoppers there is also a clear benefit, with consistent quality fruit and availability for up to nine months of the year, regardless of the weather conditions.”

DPS says the system yields five times more fruit per square metre than existing methods and can deliver a constant supply of strawberries for up to nine months without the impact of adverse weather conditions.

Living Lettuce at Co-op

A fresh alternative to bagged salads, British grower and supplier JEPCO introduced its Living Lettuce in Co-op stores through the UK in May to fanfare from its shoppers.

The whole heads of lettuce, which are hydroponically grown at JEPCO’s facilities in Essex, come in sustainable and recyclable paper bags with the roots. The company says they last seven days after they are bought by consumers.

“If the root system is kept in water, shoppers can enjoy fresh salad leaves for distinguishably longer than traditional bagged salads, and we are confident that once you have tasted one of these whole head lettuces, you won’t go back to traditional bagged salad leaves,” said JEPCO general manager Simon Creasey. “We see this as the future of fresh produce buying for British consumers because of all the added benefits including quality, shelf-life and flavour.”

So far, the lettuce has been a hit with customers.

“This innovative product launched in our stores  and initial indications are that it is proving very popular with our members and customers, particularly those looking to reduce food waste,” Co-op buyer Isobel Anstey said.



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