Staay, Philips and Rijk Zwaan collaborate on vertical farm

Philips Lighting today announced that Staay Food Group is building the first of its kind vertical farm in Europe, in Dronten, the Netherlands, which will use Philips GreenPower LED horticultural lighting. The facility will serve one of Europe’s biggest supermarket chains and will be used for testing, and optimizing processes for future, large vertical farms.

Ahead of new legislation
The 900m2 indoor vertical farm will have over 3,000m2 of growing space and produce pesticide-free lettuce. With upcoming stricter regulations on the residual pesticide levels in a bag or bowl of lettuce, retailers will need to provide exceedingly high quality, pesticide-free lettuce.

Defining growth recipes
Staay, Philips Lighting and vegetable breeder Rijk Zwaan collaborated and undertook intensive research over the past three years to determine the best combination of lettuce varieties and growth recipes to improve crop quality and yields. Having the right growth recipe prior to the start of operations at the vertical farm will help Staay achieve a faster return on investment.

“Our plant specialists at our Philips GrowWise research center in Eindhoven are testing seeds from a selection of the most suitable lettuce varieties, to define the best growth recipes and to optimize crop growth even before the farm is running,” said Udo van Slooten, Managing Director of Philips Lighting Horticulture LED Solutions.

Sustainable growth
“Producing lettuce for the fresh-cut segment indoors not only means avoiding all pesticides, it also means a much lower bacterial count and therefore longer shelf life at the retailers. With the lettuce being packaged at the same spot as where it is grown, we save on transport before distribution to retailers,” says Rien Panneman, CEO of Staay Food Group. “Also, by avoiding weather fluctuations, we maintain an optimized and stable production environment to guarantee consistent and optimal product quality.”

Looking for the best varieties
Wim Grootscholten, Marketing and Business Development Manager of Rijk Zwaan said: “The tests we are conducting within this project are enabling us to identify which varieties are optimal for growing in a vertical farm, and also which varieties offer the best taste and texture. It will help us with our continuous challenge to offer solutions for the growing world population. We believe that vertical farms will become increasingly important, because in the future we see more economic and environmental pressure to produce fruit and vegetables, such as lettuce, closer to where end-customers are located.”

First of its kind
The vertical farms in Europe, using LED-based lighting have so far been research centers or specialist producers serving restaurants. The new Staay facility in Dronten will be the first in Europe to operate commercially, serving large-scale retail. The facility will start operations in the second half of 2017.

For more information:
Philips Lighting

Staay Food Group
Nieuwland Parc 140
3351 LJ Papendrecht
The Netherlands
T +31 180 679 100
F +31 180 621 355

Rijk Zwaan
Burgemeester Crezéelaan 40
2678 KX De Lier
T +31 174 532 300

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