Flavourfresh Salads Ltd is a Lancashire-based glasshouse grower of strawberries, blackberries, and the Sweet Rosso, Piccolo, Delisher varieties of premium vine tomatoes. With a total growing area of 17.4 hectares across four growing sites, Flavourfresh supplies several major UK grocery chains. Since launching operations in 1997, it has established itself as a leader in the UK’s fresh food production market, one with a track record of developing and adopting new production strategies and crops. Like every business, it’s always striving to boost its competitive advantage—and an important component of that advantage has always been its LED lighting systems. Flavourfresh has been using LED since its inception, benefiting from the technology’s superior efficiency, longevity, versatility, and ability to offer growers minute control over lighting conditions.
Recently Flavourfresh set itself a goal: move to year-round Piccolo production. Several factors led management to this decision. First, there was growing consumer demand for UK-grown produce. This demand is driven by both sustainability considerations, with consumers conscious of the energy use involved in importing tomatoes from Spain, Morocco, and other foreign production points; and by people who understand that local produce, with its shorter distance from vine to plate, tastes better and stays fresher for longer. Second, there was the advantage for Flavourfresh of avoiding the logistical challenges and uncertainties that long-distance transport of produce can bring.
Third, there were the labor benefits associated with retaining a year-round experienced workforce, which tends to be more dedicated and effective than a seasonal one. Fourth, year-round production means year-round customer contracts, which are more predictable and mean more consistent revenue.
Working with Philips and from Philips’ local horti LED partner, CambridgeHOK, Flavourfresh chose Philips’ GreenPower LED toplighting compact. It offers low energy usage with high output, the durability necessary for constant use, and plug-and-play connectivity. A toplighting installation also ensures uniformity of light which is needed for high-wire crops. A light recipe that combined 90 percent red spectrums with five percent blue and five percent white was chosen to ensure higher yields, better quality produce and higher predictability. “Why did we choose Philips GreenPower LEDs? Simply because I believe they are the best in the market, and they have been for the last 10 years,” says Andy Roe, Production Manager at Flavourfresh.
Flavourfresh’s GreenPower toplighting compact installation has brought the UK grower significant advantages. Now Flavourfresh can produce crops all year round and can employ a workforce full time. Philips’ light recipe ensures that the solution delivers to the plants the light spectrums that they require, while its inclusion of white supports the vision of Flavourfresh employees. The growing process has become predictable: LED technology generates less heat than traditional HPS grow lights, meaning growers no longer need to remove excessive heat from the greenhouse. Finally, Flavourfresh benefits from the support of Philips’ plant specialists, who are always available for consultation. “We’ve been on a journey with Philips over the years, and it’s one that we hope to continue profitably into the future,” Roe says.