Innovation sometimes comes unexpectedly and small ideas can develop into more than originally thought. Jochen Haubner from the vegetable growing company of the same name in Nuremberg recently discovered this. A "salad vending machine" was his 'crackpot idea ', only to be developed together with a friend who manufactures special machinery. At this year's IPM, the machine was presented at the RAM stand - with some success. Now the possibilities for commercial distribution are being examined.
"The irrigated salad cabinets are designed to keep our hydroponic salad -with root block- fresh for a longer time. The cabinets are to be stocked according to requirements - this is how we want to counteract food waste," explains Haubner. The lettuce could also be grown in these cabinets, but he believes that this makes less sense: "Growing lettuce at the point of sale requires trained personnel and customers cannot help themselves, which makes the hurdle to purchase greater. With the Salajoe® to go lettuce tomato, the consumer can choose a salad, which is then 'harvested' using a gripper arm. "By stocking the cabinets ourselves, we ensure that only exactly the right amount is available in the shop at any given time. This way there can be no overproduction and wilted lettuce on the shelves can be avoided."
Haubner is particularly pleased to have found a place at the RAM stand at IPM Essen. "Everything always revolves around start-ups, but even 'old-established' companies can be 'start-ups' and want to be innovative - unfortunately there is rarely a designated place at these events. In any case, the attention for our salad machine was great."
A serious start has been made: "The machine ran smoothly from the beginning, that was very pleasing. Now, of course, we have to see for which positions the machine (SalaJoe to go Farm) is suitable. We also have to learn more about consumer buying behavior." The whole project is a great learning process and Haubner is pleased that he received encouragement and advice from many different sides: "It's really a project that makes people think. I had this idea and talked about it with my friend from Heidler Sondermaschinen over a beer at the end of the day - we then continued to develop the idea. But other colleagues and friends also made suggestions as time went on."
The salad vending machine is a fitting addition for Haubner, who also focuses on innovation in its normal day-to-day business: In his company he grows hydroponic lettuce on almost two hectares of production area and is committed to the value of regional and German produce, integrity and sustainability in the retail trade.
Jochen Haubner and his hydroponically cultivated greens