SuperValu has launched two new hydroponically grown products produced in County Meath.
It is the first retailer to bring vertically farmed hydroponic micro greens to market and the new products, available now on shelves, are Signature Tastes Italian Style Microgreen Mix and Signature Tastes Microgreen SuperMix.
Hydroponic vertical farming is an innovative farming method that allows greens to be grown on the island of Ireland all year round, whatever the weather, significantly reducing food miles and time between farm to shelves.
It is the process of growing plants without using soil. In traditional growing, soil is a major source of nutrients for plants but with hydroponics alternatives to those nutrients are directly fed to plants instead and so the use of soil can be removed completely and growing moved indoors.
In addition to the Microgreens, the Signature Tastes Growing Pea shoots are also launching in SuperValu stores. These are also grown using innovative soil-free methods but are grown on a bed of compostable paper.
The zero waste Growing Pea Shoots are a living product so customers can cut as much as they want and the plant keeps growing.
SuperValu’s Signature Tastes Microgreens and Growing Pea shoots are sustainably grown and herbicide and pesticide free.
As they have been grown in a soil-free environment which reduces strain on land-based resources, customers get great-tasting, nutrient rich greens with fewer negative impacts on the environment.
The new products are already award-winning with the Signature Tastes Pea Shoots taking home the Chefs Larder Award and the Signature Tastes Italian Style Microgreen Mix winning a PLMA Salute to Excellence Award.
The environmental benefits of hydroponic vertical farming include:
n Less water is used: 70 per cent less water is used than soil-based farming as water is recycled through the system repeatedly.
n No soil degradation: Soil degradation is an issue across the globe, but as hydroponic vertical farming does not use soil there is no negative impact on soil
n Elimination of pesticides and herbicides: With the absence of soil there is no need for fertilisers as nutrient solutions are used instead. Herbicides are not needed either as there is no weed growth and as they are grown inside there is also no need for pesticides. This means a massively reduced run-off, benefitting both the water and soil in the local area.
n Grown locally so less food miles: As hydroponic farming takes place indoors it doesn’t matter what the weather or climate is like outdoors, so products which usually could not be grown in Ireland can now be grown locally.
As vertical farming takes up less space than traditional methods the size of land available is now less of an issue as well.
SuperValu’s new products are grown in County Meath by McCormack Family farms and can make it to shelves in less than 48 hours, meaning less fuel waste in transit and minimal loss of freshness.
Ian Allen, Managing Director, SuperValu, said: “We are delighted to be the first retailer in Ireland to introduce these new products to our customers around the country.
“Given the environmental benefits of vertical hydroponic farming we’re delighted to be able to offer customers locally grown options, where previously products would have to be transported from countries in warmer climates when they’re out of season.
“This is just one of our steps to becoming more sustainable.”