IKEA: from furniture to lettuce

Thursday, 04 April, 2019

IKEA: from furniture to lettuce

Home-grown lettuce may soon be available in IKEA Sweden restaurants, after the company announced it is harvesting its own lettuce as part of a sustainability initiative.

Working with circular farming partner Bonbio, IKEA is trialling the growth of lettuce in farming containers recently installed outside its Malmö and Helsingborg department stores in an effort to serve more sustainable food.

“It is not every day that we have a harvest celebration at IKEA and it is really fun for us to finally be able to serve our own lettuce. It is fresh, crisp and has a bit more taste than regular lettuce,” said Ann Holster, responsible for IKEA Sweden’s restaurant operations. “We will start serving the lettuce in our staff canteens, but hope to soon be able to offer it to our customers.”

Lettuce is grown vertically and hydroponically inside 30 m2 high-tech cultivation containers using renewable electricity.

“After 5–6 weeks, it will be possible to harvest up to 18 kg of lettuce from each container every day,” Bonbio said.

Over four levels, lettuce roots are grow in water containing liquid plant nutrients. Nutrition is extracted from organic waste, including food waste from IKEA’s restaurants, at the biogas plant in Helsingborg run by Bonbio sister company OX2 Bio. This is where the waste food will be refined to produce plant nutrients which provide a foundation for growing new crops.

“Our horticulturists set all the important parameters needed for optimal growth of the lettuce, such as temperature, light, water, nutrition and carbon dioxide content. The first weeks of farming have gone very well,” said Bonbio Managing Director Fredrik Olrog.

The growing method requires 90% less water and less than half of the area needed for conventional farming, and allows crops to be grown locally and harvested all year round. Bonbio said it is hoped the lettuce will be served at customer restaurants over the coming year.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/goodween123

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