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Colruyt grows basil in self-developed vertical farm

On Tuesday March the 3rd, Colruyt Group introduced home-grown basil from a vertical farm. The fresh basil from the private label Boni Selection can be purchased from of today in all 31 stores of Bio-Planet. Bio-Planet will also market fresh coriander within months.

Fabrice Gabbato

According to Fabrice Gobbato, director of Bio-Planet and Okay; sustainability is in Colruyt's DNA and they were looking for a way to make the range more sustainable. "The system is sustainable and local. We do not use plant protection products and the product travels a distance up to five times less. The plants also need less space, water and nutrients, which means that the footprint of this product is very small."

No organic label
"Although growing basil is quite difficult, we have opted for basil because there is a lot of demand for it," says Fabrice. "The basil plants are grown in a sustainable way, but are not organic. The problem is that they are not grown in the open air, nor on biological substrate, which is why they do not receive a organic certificate.
The price that consumers pay for the fresh basil in the Bio-Planet stores is € 1.89, the normal market price."

Capacity: 250,000 plants
In the Colruyt distribution center, near the head office in the Netherlands, the retailer grows basil plants under violet light. "We have developed the entire installation, from ventilation to lamps, in collaboration with KU Leuven and UGent. We opted for our own installation because we mainly wanted to focus on energy efficiency,says Wannes Voorend, R&D coordinator of Colruyt Group. "We are currently growing the plants on two layers of 450 square meters, with a capacity of 250,000 plants."

High technology
In the vertical farm it is moist and the temperature is 30 ° C. "We use state-of-the-art technology whereby the plants receive a different mix of light, water and air every day. This makes the plants stronger, so that they can be kept longer. The right mix of red and blue light ensures that the plants contain more aroma and grow twice as fast, the R&D coordinator continues. We recycle all the water that the plants do not absorb or that evaporates. All the energy used by the vertical farm is green."

Future plans
Colruyt is in charge of the entire cultivation process, from growing the seeds to packaging the mature plants. "We started this project about three years ago in a small aquarium with lamps and currently we can supply 31 stores. In the future we want to grow at more levels and also supply the other chains, but this is a step in the right direction. Currently, all operations in the vertical farm are still done manually. We intend to automate the entire process, but that is the future," says Wannes.

The packaging is recyclable and consists of PET and cardboard

For more information:

Colruyt Group
Silja Decock
T:+32 473 92 45 10
silja.decock@colruytgroup.com 


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