Waitrose has made a commitment to growing British salad leaves all year round, as part of its support for UK farming.
The supermarket chain says its new growing system is a UK first and has been in development since 2014.
The leaves are grown in a 1.5 hectare glasshouse which uses state-of-the-art energy production systems that run LED lighting, heating and watering, reducing the environmental impact.
It takes 35-40 days to grow the salad in these conditions compared to up to 16 weeks in the field, so the yield is almost three times higher over the course of a 12-month period.
The greenhouse also helps to reduce insects, pests and disease, decreasing the use of pesticides and helping to prevent wastage.
And the shorter travel distances mean that the salad bags are even fresher when they reach customers, the retailer said.
The first salad to be produced from the glasshouse, which is at Evesham in Worcestershire, is the Waitrose British Chard & Salad Leaves bag which launches this week.
Waitrose claims it will be the first supermarket of the year to introduce a UK-grown salad bag, available three months earlier than the usual May-October season.
The grocer added that the recent weather challenges in Europe which have affected the supply of fresh produce to the UK ‘makes this latest innovation even more important, ensuring a consistent UK supply of salad leaf crops’.
Nicola Waller, Waitrose head of fresh produce, added: ‘This launch is a result of our long term planning and it’s great to see the first of our British salad bags hitting the shelves so early in the season.
“Developing this innovative new way of growing salad leaves means we can source from the UK all year round, going even further in our commitment to British farming.”
Waitrose has 353 shops in England, Scotland, Wales and the Channel Islands, including 64 convenience branches, and another 27 shops at Welcome Break locations.
Waitrose British Salad: Red Chard