Salad crops cultivated in vast state-of-the-art greenhouses under LED lights means a secure year-round supply of home-grown leaves for Waitrose without the reliance on imports.
Launching this week in stores across Britain, the Chard and Salad leaves bag marks the beginning of a new consistent supply and are available three months earlier than the usual May to October season.
The UK-grown salad leaves will help mitigate the short supply of lettuce in Britain following the extreme weather in Spain’s major growing regions like Murcia, making the innovation even more important, according to the supermarket.
The leaves are grown in a 1.5 hectare glasshouse in Worcestershire which uses state-of-the-art energy production systems that run efficient LED lighting, heating and watering, reducing the environmental impact.
Normally it takes up to 16 weeks to grow leaves in the field, however it takes 35-40 days to grow the salad in the protected glasshouse system which also reduces pests, insects, disease and therefore pesticide use.
The project has been developed by salad supplier Wingland Foods and has been in the pipeline since 2014. The Waitrose partnership means salad leaves will be in stores faster and eases the dependence on imports from Murcia.
“This launch is a result of our long term planning and it’s great to see the first of our British salad bags hitting the shelves so early in the season,” says Nicola Waller, Waitrose head of fresh produce.
“Developing this innovative new way of growing salad leaves means that we can source from the UK all year round, going even further in our commitment to British farming.”
The salads are also grown to LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) Marque Standards, which recognises produce grown by farmers who care for the environment.
Some UK supermarkets rationed supplies of lettuce, broccoli and other vegetables because of seriously low supply from Spain, where severe floods followed by extremely low temperatures and snow severely damaged crops, wiping out much of the winter supply.