Marks & Spencer has introduced a range of fresh herbs in its Clapham Junction store in South West London, in partnership with the vertical farming company, infarm.
The retailer also plans to roll out vertical farming units in another six stores in London by the end of the year.
Co-founder and CEO of infarm, Erez Galonska, commented, "London represents many of the sustainability challenges that people will experience in cities over the next several decades.
"By offering produce grown and harvested in the heart of the city, we want to practice a form of agriculture that is resilient, sustainable and beneficial to our planet while meeting the needs of urban communities."
The range of fresh herbs includes Italian, Greek and Bordeaux basils, mint, curly parsley, and mountain coriander.
Infarm has combined vertical farming units with the latest IoT technologies and machine learning, to create a controlled eco-system with the optimum amount of light, air, and nutrients for growing plants.
Each farming unit is connected to a cloud-based platform that learns, adjusts and improvises the technique for the next set of plants to ensure that each plant grows better than the previous one.
'A Fantastic Example'
Director of food technology at M&S Food, Paul Willgoss, commented, "Infarm’s innovative farming platform is a fantastic example of what can happen when passionate agricultural, food and technology experts work together.
"We operate as part of a complex global food supply chain and want to understand the emerging technologies that could help provide more sustainable solutions, whilst also delivering fantastic products with exceptional taste, quality, and freshness for our customers."
Each vertical farming unit consumes 95% less water and 75% less fertiliser compared with soil-based agriculture.
The pesticide-free produce is the equivalent of 400 square meters of farmland output.
As part of the partnership, the retailer will also construct a series of infarm distribution centres in and around London, that will provide seedlings for the farming units.
Farmers from infarm will visit the stores at least twice a week to harvest and add new seedlings to the farm, the retailer said.
Infarm is one of the world’s largest urban farming platforms that harvests and distributes more than 200,000 plants each month across its network in Germany, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, and the United Kingdom.
© 2019 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Dayeeta Das. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.