AgTech Controlled Environment Agriculture Vertical Farming

Spread Co. Achieves Milestone With Sales Of Lettuce Exceeding 100M Servings

Spread Co. Achieves Milestone With Sales Of Lettuce Exceeding 100M Servings

In a significant milestone for the vertical farming industry, Spread Co., Ltd., a Kyoto-based company, has reported that its indoor leaf lettuce brand, Vegetus, exceeded 100 million servings sold in November 2022. This achievement underscores the increasing popularity of sustainably grown produce among consumers.

Vegetus, a product of Spread’s vertical farming efforts, was developed under the company’s “Sustainable Vegetable” concept. The brand aims to offer nutritious, healthy vegetables for consumers and beneficial to the environment. The product lineup includes three different types of lettuce, each with distinct shapes and textures. It is sold in approximately 5,000 retail stores, food service, and ready-made meal operators across Japan.

The journey of Vegetus began in 2008, at the onset of Japan’s vertical farming industry, which had been researched and developed since the 1980s but had yet to reach large-scale commercial production. Spread’s CEO, Shinji Inada, driven by concerns about Japanese agriculture’s vulnerability to climate change, decreasing the number of agricultural producers, and a lack of successors, initiated the development of Vegetus. The goal was to produce high-quality, affordable, and flavorful lettuce using vertical farming technologies, which at the time struggled to match the quality and price of outdoor-grown produce.

Spread’s efforts to democratize access to vertically farmed vegetables involved continuous innovation in cultivation technology and operational improvements. The rising demand for convenience and health-conscious products helped propel Vegetus’s sales, with the brand’s cumulative sales surpassing 100 million servings. As a result, vertical farming has made significant inroads in the Japanese market, with numerous supermarkets now selling vertically farmed lettuce. The market is projected to grow to 45 billion yen by 2026.

Spread has been committed to delivering delicious and safe products, focusing on indoor hydroponic cultivation, earning multiple patents. The closed cultivation environment, free from insects and weeds, enables pesticide-free production. As a result, the lettuce retains its natural taste, without the typical bitterness of outdoor lettuce, and is rich in beta-carotene.

Ensuring safety and quality control, Spread has obtained the GLOBALG.A.P. standard and JAS0012 certification for vertical farms, established by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries. In addition, strict hygiene measures and sensory tests are conducted to ensure only high-quality vegetables reach customers.

In 2021, in response to growing sustainability awareness, Spread launched “Chigiri,” a sustainable product using leaves removed during production. In addition, this spring, Spread began selling a new European lettuce variety – the first of its kind in Japan, named “Stick Lettuce,” demonstrating the company’s commitment to continue developing products that cater to changing consumer needs and lifestyles.

Image provided by Spread Co.

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