Daily Management Review

Furniture Giant Ikea To Serve Home Grown Lettuce At Its Restaurants


Global furniture giant Ikea could soon be serving up salads with its home grown lettuce at the restaurants attached to its stores in Sweden. The lettuce was recently harvested by the company grown within its store complex as a part of its sustainability program. 
With the aim of serving more sustainable food at its restaurants, the furniture maker had teamed up with its farming partner Bonbio and the two are jointly engaged in farming of lettuce within farming containers which had first been recently put up just outside of two of its department stores at Malmö and Helsingborg in Sweden.
“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,” Ann Holster, the head of Ikea’s restaurant operations in Sweden told the media. “We will start serving the lettuce in our staff canteens, but hope to soon be able to offer it to our customers,” she added.
Renewable electricity is being used by the company for farming of lettuce inside 30 m2 high-tech cultivation containers where they are grown vertically and hydroponically.
“After 5–6 weeks, it will be possible to harvest up to 18 kg of lettuce from each container every day,” Bonbio said.
Water containing liquid plant nutrient is used as the base for growing lettuce along four vertical levels. Nutrition is extracted from organic waste, which  includes food waste from Ikea’s restaurants, at the biogas plant in Helsingborg run by Bonbio sister company OX2 Bio. This facility would also be used for refining of the waste food for production of plant nutrients which serve as the basis for cultivating 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,” Bonbio Managing Director Fredrik Olrog told the media.
The lettuce growing method employed by Ikea demands about 90 per cent less water and about half of the area that is needed in conventional cultivation of the vegetable. This also allows the local growing of the crops and for harvesting the same throughout the year. The company would potentially be serving the home grown lettuce at its restaurants in Sweden next month.
The entire process and the special LED-powered containers were demonstrated by Ikea at an event held for the media in its Kaarst, western Germany, store. 
“The conditions are perfect for maximum taste and growth and you also have the sustainability advantage because you don’t have the transport,” Catarina Englund, innovation manager for the Ingka Group, which owns most IKEA stores, told the media at the event.
IKEA, which is also amongst the largest sellers of LED lights in the world, is also engaged n the selling of home hydroponic kits for hobby indoor gardeners.