Waitrose has made a commitment to growing British salad leaves all year round, as part of their ongoing support for UK farming. The new and innovative growing system is a UK first and has been in development since 2014.
The leaves are grown in a 1.5 hectare glasshouse which uses state-of-the-art energy production systems that run efficient LED lighting, heating and watering, reducing the environmental impact. It takes 35-40 days to grow the salad in these conditions compared to up to 16 weeks in the field so the yield is almost three times higher over the course of a 12 month period. The protected greenhouse also helps to reduce insects, pests and disease, decreasing the use of pesticides and helping to prevent wastage. The shorter travel distances mean that the salad bags are even fresher when they reach customers.
The first salad to be produced from the unique glasshouse in Evesham, Worcestershire, is the Waitrose British Chard & Salad Leaves bag. With their launch this week, Waitrose will be the first supermarket of the year to introduce a UK grown salad bag, available three months earlier than the usual May-October season. The recent weather challenges in Europe which have been affecting the supply of fresh produce to the UK makes this latest innovation even more important, ensuring a consistent UK supply of salad leaf crops.
Nicola Waller, Waitrose Head of Fresh Produce, said: ‘This launch is a result of our long term planning and it’s great to see the first of our British salad bags hitting the shelves so early in the season. Developing this innovative new way of growing salad leaves means that we can source from the UK all year round, going even further in our commitment to British farming.’
The salad leaf varieties have been carefully selected to ensure a consistent and high quality flavour, texture and size of salad leaf. The salads are also grown to LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) Marque Standards, which recognises produce grown by farmers who care for the environment.
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Waitrose – winner of the Best Supermarket¹ and Best Food and Grocery Retailer² awards – currently has 353 shops in England, Scotland, Wales and the Channel Islands, including 64 convenience branches, and another 27 shops at Welcome Break locations. It combines the convenience of a supermarket with the expertise and service of a specialist shop – dedicated to offering quality food that has been responsibly sourced, combined with high standards of customer service. Waitrose also exports its products to 58 countries worldwide and has seven shops which operate under licence in the Middle East. Waitrose’s omnichannel business includes the online grocery service, Waitrose.com, as well as specialist online shops including waitrosecellar.com for wine, and waitrosekitchen.com for cookware, utensils and kitchen gadgets.