South Africa: in-store vertical farm launched

Pick n Pay has become the first South African retailer to launch in-store “vertical farms” to show customers a sustainable and locally-grown modern farming solution.  The vertical farms will grow various lettuce leaves and herbs from seeds, right in Pick n Pay’s fruit and vegetable section. This innovative farming method display in-store is a growing trend globally with supermarkets in Europe and US, such as Marks & Spencer (M&S) and Whole Foods Market, introducing grown in-store leaf.

Liz van Niekerk, Head of Produce and Horticulture at Pick n Pay, says the displays should pique the interest of and strongly appeal to environmentally-minded customers, but especially the youth, who will be able to see first-hand how produce grows and help connect them more to farming.

The initiative is in partnership with CAN-Agri – a vertical, hydroponic, greenhouse farm in Pretoria – which has been a supplier to Pick n Pay for over three years, supplying produce under the PnP label.  The Pick n Pay-CAN-Agri in-store vertical farm has eight vertical ‘growing stacks’, each containing 10 plants, and will be a method demonstration of CAN-Agri’s commercial facility which has 24 rows with 200 ‘growing stacks’ spanning 6 m high. 

While customers won’t be able to buy produce directly from the in-store vertical farms, CAN-Agri will supply a new range of products, pre-packed in punnets made from recycled plastic, from its farm. This will include an assortment of salad leaves with different lettuces and herbs, whole baby butter lettuce heads and cos leaves.

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