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Infarm expands in UK with Whole Foods deal

Infarm expands in UK with Whole Foods deal © Infarm
© Infarm


Berlin-based urban farming specialist Infarm has added Whole Foods Market UK to its growing list of customers. Infarm, which claims to be the world’s fastest-growing urban farming network, continues its UK expansion with the installation of its modular vertical farming units in two Whole Foods stores in London (High Street Kensington and Fulham), allowing shoppers to purchase fresh produce grown in store. Infarm produce will also appear in Whole Foods Market London stores at Piccadilly Circus, Stoke Newington, Richmond, Clapham Junction and Camden at the end of October and during November. These stores will be supplied with produce from a local Infarm growing centre in Tottenham, the company said, providing flexible supply as and when required.

The Infarm range will include herbs such as coriander, parsley, basil, mint, dill and Thai basil, and a range of different fresh lettuce varieties. The first harvest from Whole Foods Market Kensington is scheduled for 19 November.

A spokesperson for Infarm said, “The partnership between Infarm and Whole Foods Market aims to satisfy increasing consumer demand for sustainably grown products with a smaller environmental footprint, helping customers to both make healthy choices and reduce their food waste.” 

Infarm recently raised US$170m in series C funding to continue its expansion in the UK, US, Canada, France and Germany, and is expected to enter Japan soon.

Daniel Kats, vice-president of corporate sales at Infarm, said: “Whole Foods Market felt like a perfect fit for Infarm. Its commitment to providing customers with vibrant, sustainable food aligns with our goal of growing produce locally and, in the process, substantially reducing food waste and the environmental impact of what we consume. We hope that in installing our modular farms in Kensington and Fulham, we can help to educate shoppers about the future of food.”

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Sainsbury’s trials ‘Vegetable Butcher’ in London store

Sainsbury’s Vegetable Butcher is fronted by Amber Locke, who shows customers more than six different techniques to prepare veg including ribbon cut, spiralised, mandolin sliced, wave-cut and julienne. Customers can buy their favourite loose vegetables, then take them to the counter for a preparation of their choice at no additional cost.

A new vegetable counter designed to show customers ways vegetables can be incorporated into everyday meals, and encourage them to make the most of their favourites from ‘root to tip’, is being trialled this week by Sainsbury’s in one of its superstores in London.

In a press release, the supermarket chain described the service as the UK’s first vegetable butcher, saying it was inspired by the rise in nose to tail eating and the expert knife skills found in traditional butchers.

“The Vegetable Butcher will allow customers to discover new ways to prepare classics such as carrots, broccoli and cucumbers whilst also inspiring them to try less familiar veg including beetroot and parsnip,” it said.

“The Vegetable Butcher will be using more than six different techniques to prepare veg including ribbon cut, spiralised, mandolin sliced, wave-cut and julienne. Customers can buy their favourite loose vegetables, then take them to the counter for a preparation of their choice (or to be inspired by a new way to cook and enjoy them) at no additional cost.”

The Vegetable Butcher will be fronted by Amber Locke, who said she has been trying to use vegetables in exciting and inspiring ways for years. “I have a passion for showing people how fun and delicious vegetables can be and, more importantly, how you can avoid wasting parts of them that may seem unusable.”

Sainsbury’s said British shoppers (62%) are now buying a larger variety of vegetables than they did five years ago – due to understanding more about the health benefits of different vegetables (44%) and being more likely to consider vegetables as the main part of a meal (28%).

“Over 20% are even inspired by chefs and restaurants serving interesting vegetable dishes that they want to recreate at home. Of those who have bought at least one new variety of vegetable this year, sweet potato (40%), kale (36%), avocado (19%) and asparagus (19%) top their choices.”

“While Sainsbury’s is already leading the way with innovative products such as “Courgetti”  (courgette spaghetti) and “Boodles” (butternut squash noodles) – made primarily from vegetables that would otherwise be wasted – there is still a way to go in the fight against food waste. As part of her role as The Vegetable Butcher, Amber will demonstrate easy ways to use the whole vegetable – from grating to roasting and juicing.”

Sainsbury’s product developer for fresh produce Georgina Lunn said the retailer is always seeking new and interesting ways to inspire its customers.

“The innovative new products we’ve recently introduced to the prepared vegetable category, such as courgetti and beetroot rice, have been really popular, so we love the idea of an in-store Vegetable Butcher, to build on this success and hope it will be well-received by our shoppers too,” she said.

The veg counter is operating on a trial basis until tomorrow (Saturday June 18), in Sainsbury’s Wandsworth superstore in South West London.

Surge in vegetable sales

Sainsbury’s said vegetables are becoming more central to British eating with over two thirds (68%)* of households now enjoying at least one vegetarian meal a week – even if they are meat eaters.

“Families are also increasingly replacing carbohydrates with on-trend vegetable alternatives, with new Sainsbury’s products “courgetti” and “boodles” exceeding expectations by selling an average of nearly 30,000 units per week since their launch in January 2016.”

The retailers said it has seen the following year-on-year surge in its vegetable sales:

– avocado* (147%)
– asparagus spears* (118%)
– broccoli* (40%)
– courgettes* (30%)
– bunched beetroot (25%)*

*Total Sainsbury’s vegetables sales volume from PD 03 2015 – PD 03 2016: 6% growth
*Sales volume of Sainsbury’s Large Ripe & Ready Avocado Single from Total P4 2014 – P3 2015: to Total P4 2015 – P3 2016: 4,353,289
*Sales volume of Sainsbury’s Asparagus Spears 250g from Total P4 2014 – P3 2015: to Total P4 2015 – P3 2016: 4,353,289
*Sales volume of Sainsbury’s Broccoli 335g from Total P4 2014 – P3 2015: to Total P4 2015 – P3 2016: 4,353,289
*Sales volume of Sainsbury’s Courgettes 500g from Total P4 2014 – P3 2015: to Total P4 2015 – P3 2016: 4,353,289
*Sales volume of Sainsbury’s Bunched Beetroot from Total P4 2014 – P3 2015: to Total P4 2015 – P3 2016: 4,353,289
Research carried out by OnePoll amongst 2,000 UK shoppers in June 2016


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London Produce Show returns next month

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Now in its third edition, the London Produce Show will be bringing the world of fresh produce together again in London’s iconic Grosvenor House hotel from June 8-10.

Billed as a boutique exhibition for the global fresh fruit, vegetable and flower industries, this annual event for all parts of the fresh produce supply chain – from seed to plate – is presented by the Fresh Produce Consortium and Produce Business magazine.

The London Produce Show gives trade exhibitors direct access to a wide range of international produce buyers from the retail, foodservice and wholesale sectors. It also offers rich opportunities for cross-continental learning, including a series of networking occasions, seminars and chef demonstrations run around and alongside the exhibition.

Last year, this unique show featured 128 exhibition booths and attracted 1,665 attendees, from 36 countries.

This year, the Show Ambassador will be the multi-talented Oli Blanc, the creator of the award-winning Henri Le Worm app and interactive website.

The app is a story narrated by Simon Pegg, featuring recipes by Oli’s renowned father, chef Raymond Blanc, and aims to connect young children with food and nature, increasing their knowledge of fresh fruit and vegetables and encouraging them to eat more healthily.

Images courtesy of London Produce Show

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The evolution of London’s New Covent Garden Market

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One way to find out what’s new and hot on London’s food scene is to visit New Covent Garden Market, the UK’s largest fruit, vegetable and flower market.

As Zeenat Anjari, the New Covent Garden Market Authority’s  business development manager, told ED at the London Produce Show in June, it is evolving is as an important fresh produce pantry for leading restaurants

”There’s recognition that New Covent Garden Market is the place where chefs will find that trend product, that niche product,” she said.

In terms of new fresh produce trends, Anjari said curly kale is very popular and the market has had flower sprouts – Brussels sprouts crossed with kale – in stock and now has baby kale coming through. She also mentioned a golden beetroot marketed by G’s that is “cooked and vacuum-packed just like the regular beetroot but really pretty and very bright and sweet, not too fibrous.”

“Every time you go down Buyers’ Walk there’s always some innovative product to see,” she said.

Changing use of refrigeration

Asked what else is changing, Anjari pinpointed technology, and in particular the way in which refrigeration is used, such as having smaller areas at different temperatures within a larger, fully chilled warehouse.

She said wholesalers are also pre-empting changes in food standards and health and safety laws by changing processes before it becomes a statutory requirement. “A key part of the market’s redevelopment will mean NCGM is the only market built to food ready specification as standard.”

Businesses at the market are also doing more processing that adds value to raw products. This is partly due to customer demand, such as for peeled potatoes meeting certain specifications, but also because there is the expertise in New Covent Garden Market to deliver a specific processed product.

New Covent Garden Market redevelopment

Forty years after moving to its current location in the Nine Elms area in south-west London, New Covent Garden Market is embarking on a major transformation and expansion on its 57 acre site which will include a new market of 500,000 sq ft.

Construction is due to start in earnest this summer but that of the first new fruit and vegetable market buildings won’t start until the end of 2016, with the first tenants moving to their new units in summer 2017. By the start of June, 94% of the planned fruit and vegetable market units had already been let.

Anjari said details of the “massive redevelopment” can be seen at

About New Covent Garden Market

·         200 food & flower businesses
·         has been voted #1 wholesale market in UK
·         over 200 businesses, employing over 2,500 people
·         over 350 varieties of fresh fruit and vegetables
·         40% of London’s fruit & veg eaten outside the home comes from the Market
·         thousands of tons of fresh produce delivered to the Market each day

New Covent Garden Market:
London Produce Show: