Colruyt tests in-store vertical farming cultivation

Date : 03 December 2018

Belgium-based Colruyt is testing its self-developed system to enable in-store vertical farming. The retailer hopes to sell quality herbs that have a small ecological footprint from Q4 2019 onwards.

Shortened chains and fewer resources

Vertical farming cultivation helps to produce sustainable products with shortened chains and fewer resources. Colruyt requires 20 times less space in its in-store testing facility, 90% less water and 50% less nutrients than ‘traditional’ cultivation.

Stefan Goethaert, responsible for product preservation at Colruyt, said, “We reuse all substances that the plant does not absorb. Moreover, we only work with purified rainwater. Our LED lighting is twice as efficient as the current standard on the market. And the installation runs on green electricity from its own wind turbines and solar panels”.

Optimal conditions

Goethaert added, “With our multilayer cultivation we create the perfect conditions for a plant”. Colruyt will administer the optimal proportions of air, light, water and nutrients without the need for pesticides. This will help the plant to grow optimally without consuming more energy or nutrients than necessary. The quality of products will remain constant, regardless of varying weather conditions.

First herbs to be sold at Bio-Planet

Bio-Planet business unit manager, Jo Ghilain, commented, “We are still in the test phase. But the goal is to sell the first herbs at Bio-Planet within a year”. The herbs will be sold under the private label Boni Selection, which focuses on sustainable products.

Ghilain added, “Vertical farming fits perfectly with our brand positioning. Bio-Planet stands for healthy, pure and local products. Moreover, our customers are early adopters and value-added seekers. They are asking for products with a sustainable story”. Colruyt is also developing a recyclable packaging to help extend the plant’s life. The retailer hopes to limit transport by integrating the vertical farm in a distribution centre soon too.

As it joins other retailers innovating in this area

Several other European retailers have introduced or are trialling similar technology.

For instance, earlier this month, Casino introduced an in-store hydroponic fixture in-store that cultivates herbs including basil, coriander, parsley and mint. Meanwhile, Sweden’s ICA has partnered with Urban Oasis to introduce a co-branded range of hydroponically grown herbs and plants in-store.

Learn more about Colruyt’s new concept Bio-Planet store

Earlier this year, IGD was invited to visit Colruyt’s new concept Bio-Planet store. Read about it in our article, ‘Five reasons to visit Belgium’.

Source: IGD Research