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Fresh Direct

With UK tomato supply predominantly reliant on imports, more sustainable horticultural practices appear to be the future.

Fresh Direct has partnered with vertical farming pioneers, Fischer Farms, to launch a range of British-grown herbs and leafy greens. The partnership aims to improve supply chain sustainability.

Fresh Direct will sell vertically farmed fare, including basil and watercress, grown in Fischer Farms’ state-of-the-art, biosecure vertical farm in Norwich. As well as the sustainability benefits that producing closer to home brings, chefs are being promised quality and freshness.

Fischer Farms’ stacked, climate-controlled growing environment – the equivalent of 825 football pitches – means it can produce British-grown crops 12 months of the year, completely independent of extreme weather.

The four-acre vertical farm is one of the largest in the world, delivering the same amount of food as 1,000 acres of conventional farmland. Powered by renewable energy, Fischer Farms processes use less land and water, and no pesticides, herbicides or insecticides, due to the controlled cultivation process.

Tom Bartlett, trading manager, Fresh Direct, said: “The partnership with Fischer Farms will lead the way in the foodservice industry, helping to deliver year-round quality and consistency. And, importantly for chefs, the product will behigh quality and look and taste fresher, as it will not have to stand up to the rigours of a very difficult supply chain.”

Jon Cummings, sales director at Fischer Farms, explained: “Historically, some traditionally grown herbs have travelled thousands of miles before arriving on restaurant menus, with the quality inevitably suffering. However, the latest vertical farming innovations offer produce that chefs will love. This highly advanced technique takes the strain out of the supply chain, solves complex challenges facing the foodservice industry, and meets their environmental agenda. We look forward to working in close partnership with Fresh Direct and building a more resilient and sustainable supply chain for UK operators.”

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