Michiel van Zanten, Hrbs:

"Customers can harvest lettuce in the supermarket"

Consumers seem to prefer convenience and pre-packaging. There is, however, a growing counter-movement. Starting this week, Albert Heijn Gelderlandplein in Amsterdam boasts a harvest stand. It has an assortment of lettuce with their roots still attached. "It looks like a large lettuce bouquet", says Michiel van Zanten, of the Dutch company, Hrbs. "A very different sight to the lettuce in bags of which as many as possible are crammed into a crate. The stand looks good. People regularly take photos of it. It is also going well regarding rotation. I often see people harvesting a head of lettuce." How successful this self-harvesting of lettuce will be, will only become evident at the end of the project. Michiel is, from what he has observed, pleased with it.

Lettuce on water is a co-creation of Albert Heijns Food Rebels, Hrbs' green design, and the products of AH's permanent lettuce suppliers. "We chose to offer different kinds of lettuce, not just butter lettuce. There is also tricolour, curly leaf and oak leaf lettuce. It is also a good test for the fresh fruit and vegetable teams to see how these new lettuce varieties catch on with customers when they are presented in this way.

There are buckets with holes in for a total of 35 heads of lettuce in the viewing, selection and packing stand. Here the lettuce stand, with their roots still attached. In this way, the lettuce's roots lie in nutrients, keeping them fresh and lovely. Customers can easily grab the lettuce and put them in the supplied cups. The lettuce then does not drip all over the shop floors. The stand looks at its best when it is fully stocked. Attentive fruit and vegetable staff need to fill the stand up when they become 10% empty.

It is an experiment for AH as well as Hrbs. The company is a service model for fresh herbs and crops. It has, up to now, focused on companies and the catering industry. "Hrbs wants to bring the world of fruit and vegetables as close to the ordinary person as possible. We want to integrate them into everyday life. We supply stands, for inside and outside, with trays for different kinds of mini-vegetable crops and herbs. Chefs and clients can then harvest these themselves. When the crops have all been harvested, or are old, we deliver a new tray and take the old one along for reuse", says Michiel. Before he started working at Hrbs, he was a buyer at Albert Heijn. Her reconnected with this retail shop with this idea. "I know how they think, and what is important to them. We will see how it goes. We consciously opted for co-creation. Lettuce is a new product for us. We are certainly open to the idea of including collaborations to also provide services to retail", he says.
For more information:
Michiel van Zanten
400 Johan Huizingalaan
T+31(0) 610 247 253

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