Retailers invest in vertical farms for salads

Retailers are increasingly interested in the use of in-store farming systems for salads and leaves as the idea of ‘Salad as a Service’ (SaaS) takes hold.

According to a recent report, SaaS could revolutionise supply chains, boost environmental credentials and drive new customer experience. In the UK, Marks & Spencer, Selfridges and Whole Foods (which is owned by Amazon) have all introduced in-store herb-growing pods, which allow shoppers to pick their own produce.

One of the market leaders of SaaS is German-based Infarm, which has in-store units in Berlin, Copenhagen, Seattle and London, where it works with M&S and Selfridges.

Maria Trapani, Selfridges’ food buyer, says vertical farming provides customers with “hyper-local, extremely fresh and naturally flavourful produce.”

She adds, “We are constantly looking for new and more sustainable ways to source food, and this allows us to reduce our carbon footprint, as well as being chemical-free and using 95 per cent less water. The range we are offering, which is exclusive to us, is proving popular with customers and we’ve had some great feedback.”

Michael Dent, analyst at IDTechEx, comments, “Rather than focusing on mass-produced, wholesale crops, where vertical farms will always struggle to compete on price with traditional farms and greenhouses, it may make more sense for vertical farm operators to focus on high-value crops that command a price premium, perhaps within niche markets or specialised applications. The debate over the best size for a vertical farm is still ongoing.”

Photo caption: M&S is one British retailer working with Infarm to supply in-store herbs and salads

Photo source: M&S

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