Following the September partnership launch, M&S and Infarm – one of the world’s most advanced urban farming platforms - have completed the installation of innovative vertical farms in six further locations.
The roll out means a selection of herbs are now freshly grown and harvested in six more M&S stores across the capital: Bromley, Ealing Broadway, Kensington, Kings Road, Marble Arch and Stratford City, alongside the launch store site at Clapham Junction.
M&S used trading data of its existing fresh herb range to identify the right sites for the first stage of roll out – three of the top five UK stores in terms of sales are included (Kensington, Kings Road and Marble Arch).
Infarm’s ground-breaking farming technology combines highly efficient vertical farming units with the latest IOT technologies and machine learning, to deliver a controlled eco-system with the optimum amount of light, air and nutrients.
Each unit is remotely controlled using a cloud-based platform, which learns, adjusts and continuously improves to ensure each plant grows better than the last one.
M&S is Infarm’s first UK partner and its first vertical farming unit was installed at the renewed Clapham Junction store in mid-September.
Joe Erskine, Store Manager at M&S Food Clapham Junction, said, “M&S Food is transforming but as we modernise, we’re protecting the magic and the things customers love about our food – like great innovation and delicious tasting quality products and our Infarm partnership helps us deliver exactly that.
'Our farming unit has been a real talking point since we re-opened in September and is helping change the perception of M&S Food in the local area. The farm brings a feeling of real freshness to our product offer and customers have been keen to discuss its sustainability benefits too.
'The feedback on the product quality and flavour has been outstanding, with coriander topping the list as our best-selling line in the range – ideal for adding an extra flavour punch to a curry.”
Each in-store farm unit uses 95% less water and 75% less fertiliser than traditional soil-based agriculture. Measuring just two square metres, these farms are capable of producing the equivalent crop of 400 square meters of farmland, resulting in a more sustainable use of natural resources and also allowing for zero pesticide use.
Erez Galonksa, CEO and co-founder of Infarm said, “The launch of our partnership with M&S earlier this summer has generated tremendous excitement among shoppers.
As we expand to several more store locations, we look forward to making Infarm a core part of the fresh, sustainable produce menu available to London’s most demanding, health-conscious consumers.”
With installation now complete, the seedlings have now been planted in all six stores and will be ready for harvesting over the next couple of weeks [see harvest dates below]. Infarm farmers will visit the stores after each growth cycle to harvest and add new seedlings to the farm. The plants retain their roots post-harvest to maintain exceptional flavour and freshness.
The choice of herbs available in the new locations has been seasonally tailored and with Christmas fast approaching, M&S has added fresh thyme to the selection – a perfect festive accompaniment to a roast! Thyme will be sold alongside Italian and Bordeaux basil, mint, mountain coriander and flat-leaf parsley.