Whole Foods Market has announced a new partnership with urban farming network Infarm to install vertical farms inside its UK stores.
It marks the third major expansion into the UK retail space for Infarm as retailers seek ways to reduce the environmental footprint in their supply chain and develop their range of sustainable produce.
Infarm has installed two of its modular vertical farming units in two of Whole Foods Market’s London outlets: High Street Kensington and Fulham, so shoppers can buy fresh produce grown directly in store. The remaining five London stores will be supplied with produce from a local Infarm growing center in Tottenham, providing flexible supply as and when required.
The partnership between Infarm and Whole Foods Market aims to satisfy increasing consumer demand for sustainably grown products. The launch follows deals with Selfridges London and Marks & Spencer, as well as the online delivery service Farmdrop, and shows how a growing number of retailers are now taking action to create a more sustainable food system.
“Whole Foods Market felt like a perfect fit for Infarm,” Daniel Kats, VP of Corporate Sales at Infarm said. “Its commitment to providing customers with vibrant, sustainable food aligns with our goal of growing produce locally and, in the process, substantially reducing food waste and the environmental impact of what we consume. We hope that in installing our modular farms in Kensington and Fulham, we can help to educate shoppers about the future of food.”
Jade Hoai, Director of Purchasing and Operations at Whole Foods Market, said: “We are excited to partner with Infarm to offer a truly hyper-local selection of greens and herbs across all of our London stores.
“Whole Foods Market customers can expect to find fresh, unique herbs from Infarm’s vertical growing units like Bordeaux purple basil, that are grown locally, have no pesticides, and use a fraction of the traditional resources required to grow. We are excited about this relationship for its joint commitment to environmental stewardship and for the delicious, nutritious meals our customers will be crafting at home.”
Whole Foods Market shoppers will be able to purchase Infarm’s range of herbs, including Mountain Coriander, Flat Parsley, Basil, Mint, Dill and Thai Basil. Infarm’s range of fresh lettuce (Crystal, Caravel, Duo and Red Romaine) will also be available to buy. Whole Foods Market is also set to stock Nero di Toscana, Scarlet Kale, Sorrel and Red Stem Mizuna. Infarm farmers visit the store after each growth cycle to add new seedlings to the farm.
The plants retain their roots post-harvest to maintain exceptional flavour and freshness, meaning they’re still alive when harvested. The expansion comes as retailers look to find innovative ways to combat climate change.
Infarm units use 95% less water and 90% less transport than traditional agriculture, as well as 75% less fertiliser and no pesticides. Measuring just two square metres, Infarm’s in-store farms produce more than 8,000 plants per year, with the first harvest from Whole Foods Market Kensington due on 19 November.