Today marks a significant advancement in Lithuania’s agricultural landscape as Leafood vertical farm opens in Vilnius, bringing locally-grown, pesticide-free salads and herbs to the country’s market. Beginning on May 12, the first harvest from this cutting-edge farm will be on sale at select IKI grocery stores nationwide.
Leafood’s selection includes a variety of produce such as Romaine, Lollo Rosso, Iceberg Lettuce, Spinach, Kale, Green Oakleaf, Rucola, Basil, Coriander, and Mint. In addition, the range also features Gourmet and Classic salad mixes. While these offerings carry a slightly higher price tag than imported salads and herbs, Leafood assures that the added benefits justify the premium.
Each product from Leafood arrives ready to eat, straight from the reclosable packaging. Thanks to the advanced YesHealth Group technology used in indoor cultivation, all products are entirely free from pesticides and harmful chemicals often found in other produce. This convenience, combined with the cleanliness of the product, lends itself perfectly to the fast-paced lifestyle of modern consumers seeking quick yet healthy meal options.
An additional selling point of Leafood’s produce is its extended shelf life. Contrary to the 1-5 day shelf life of imported salads and herbs, Leafood’s products remain fresh in the refrigerator for 7-10 days. This advantage is due to reduced shipping time and the absence of pesticides and other residues, thanks to the localized supply chain.
Consumers choose Leafood to support a resilient, climate change-resistant Lithuanian food system. Leafood’s vertical farming method eliminates the reliance on seasonal conditions, sunlight, temperature, or rainfall, typically associated with traditional outdoor farms and greenhouses. This technology enables year-round harvesting, efficient use of space, reduced water usage, and a non-polluting cultivation process devoid of fertilizers and pesticides.
Adopting advanced farming techniques allows Leafood to ensure sustainable, year-round cultivation of salads and herbs in Lithuania. The vertical farm, powered entirely by renewable energy, is operated by YesHealth Group’s team, which is experienced in running successful vertical farms in Taiwan and Denmark. As data accumulates, the farm’s energy efficiency will continually improve, providing a sustainable model for the future of agriculture.
Leafood launched in June 2022, following a seed funding round that raised €6.45 million from Niels Peter Pretzmann, founder of organic farm Farmer’s Circle and sustainable hospitality hub Baltic Food Republic, alongside YesHealth Group and another private investor. The setup and testing of the Vilnius vertical farm were concluded in April 2023, with the current operations handled by the YesHealth Group as they train a local workforce for the farm’s upcoming production phase.
Valentinas Civinskas, founder and CEO of Leafood, emphasizes the growing trend of locally sourced goods in Lithuania. “However, when it comes to salads and herbs, which can only be grown outdoors for 2 or 3 months of the year, there has been no choice but to purchase imported goods. Now, that’s all changing. Because of technology, we can grow salads and herbs all year round in Lithuania, and people can purchase our locally-grown produce for an affordable price.”
A 2021 European Commission report classified Lithuania as one of Europe’s unhealthiest countries, attributing most deaths to dietary risks, including low fruit and vegetable intake and high sugar-sweetened beverage consumption. Civinskas believes that the key to tackling this issue is a fundamental shift in dietary habits, not merely through access to locally grown produce.
Image provided by YesHealth Group
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