John Lewis-owned grocer Waitrose is pondering the opening of in-store ‘allotments’ where shoppers can pick their own produce.
John Lewis is in discussions with indoor agriculture technology specialist LettUs Grow about the idea, the Daily Mail reported.
Bristol-based LettUS Grow creates design irrigation and control systems for indoor farms using aeroponic technology – a method of cultivation in which plants are watered using a fine mist, without the need for soil.
Co-founder Jack Farmer told the BBC’s Farming Today programme: “With the rise of Amazon and other online retailers, the retail experience has to become much more experiential.”
He said customers could pick their own salads in-store. “You really re-engage with the food system and the provenance of our food,” he maintained.
Such an approach could also help bring down the costs of transport, waste and packaging.
It is thought that John Lewis is talking to Lettus Grow through its JLab innovation programme, but no plans have been finalised to introduce the in-store farms.
John Lewis customer experience director Peter Cross said: “Shops simply have no option but to inspire and delight customers.”
Another company, Infarm, hopes to bring its in-store agriculture proposition to the UK. The German company already operates in more than 50 stores and other locations in Berlin, the Daily Mail reported.
Infarm is backed by British venture capitalists and is in discussions with UK supermarket chains.