Pete’s is gearing up to release a new product line in January: Greenhouse Fresh packaged, hydroponically grown lettuce. “Pete’s has been growing in greenhouses for over 50 years and has been growing hydroponic lettuce specifically for over 25 years. However, it’s always been brought to shelves as ‘living,’ with the roots still attached. This is the first time we’ll actually be harvesting the lettuce and packaging it for the consumers,” explains Brian Cook, Pete’s CEO.
Growing lettuce in greenhouses has many benefits, from lower water and land usage, to crops being protected from outside elements. “Greens that are grown indoors also have the benefit of being generally cleaner than field-grown greens, so they don’t need to be triple washed and don’t need harsh chlorine baths to be cleaned. Greenhouse products are protected from the environment and don’t experience many of the challenges that field-grown greens do, such as water runoff issues that are often associated with contamination and product recalls,” Cook says. Because of this, the company decided to include Romaine lettuce among the four varieties in the new Greenhouse Fresh line. “Indoor Romaine is exactly that. It is a Romaine that is grown indoors. And as such, it won’t have to be recalled if there is a food safety issue, which will allow consumers to continue purchasing their Romaine lettuce even when there is a recall,” Cook shares.
The other three varieties in the Greenhouse Fresh line are a Hydro Spring Mix, Nice & Crunchy, and Benevolent Butter. “The Spring Mix will have all the classic spring mix components, with the added benefit that it’s water system grown,” Cook explains, adding: “The Nice & Crunchy is an ice lettuce variety, but it has the color of a dark leafy greens, so it’s the best of both worlds: the crunch of the iceberg lettuce, and the color and nutrients of dark leafy greens. The last variety, Benevolent Butter, is a classic butter lettuce, which is a Pete’s staple on the living side of our hydroponics, so it made sense to include it in this new line as well.”
Right: Brian Cook.
Commitment to sustainability and recycling
With this new product line release, Pete’s has partnered with the non-profit organization 1% for the Planet. “Through this partnership, we commit to giving 1% of our Greenhouse Fresh sales to an environmentally friendly non-profit organization. We chose to partner with The Recycling Partnership, as one of their strategic pillars involves their commitment to the pathway to circularity and improving the recycling infrastructure,” Cook says.
The Greenhouse Fresh product packaging will include the 1% for the Planet logo, Cook shares. “There’s already a lot of consumer awareness for this organization, and as more and more companies partner with them and add the logo to their packaging, the brand recognition will only continue to grow. Through our social media outreach, we will explain to the consumer that the donation will be going toward The Recycling Partnership,” he says.
In addition to this partnership, Pete’s is also taking steps to make their packaging more sustainable. “The container of the Greenhouse Fresh line is made with 100% post-consumer recycled material, and has a flexible resealable top, which uses significantly less plastic and less CO2 in its production than the rigid resealable tops. We wanted to provide a holistically sustainable solution with this line, while simultaneously contributing to sustainability in a broader way. We have also committed to have a ‘How to Recycle’ label on all of our packaging by 2022 and by 2025 we want to reduce the amount of virgin plastics in our packaging by 75% and have 100% of our packaging be reusable or recyclable,” Cook says.
Pete’s new Greenhouse Fresh line will release in a localized trial on the West Coast in January, with plans to expand nationwide soon after.