Panasonic salads hit the market in Singapore

Panasonic has started selling salads and legumes to supermarkets, restaurants and resorts in Singapore grown in the city state’s first indoor licensed vegetable farm which opened last year.

The Veggie Life brand offers consumers a choice of three salads and various European and Asian vegetables, including baby spinach, red chard and mizuna from Japan.

A local subsidiary of a household name in consumer electronics, the Japanese company said on Thursday that its produce meets Singapore’s “stringent food safety standards” and is all cultivated in a controlled, pesticide-free environment.

Salad boxes sell for around 6.90 Singapore dollars ($4.80) and can be found in Japanese supermarkets such as Meidi-Ya and Isetan. They will be available in local supermarkets later in November. Panasonic also supplies produce to Resorts World Sentosa, and Les Amis and Ootoya restaurants.

The vegetables are the result of a Panasonic research and development partnership with Singapore’s Food Innovation & Resource Center.

Panasonic’s indoor farm has a seeding and potting automation system which could double productivity. According to a research report by Spire Research, indoor farming can produce seasonal crops by using light-emitting diode (LED) lighting to trigger photosynthesis. In optimal conditions, the company says yields can be increased by 50%.

Panasonic is investing about S$3 million over a three-year period to establish an annual production capacity by next year of 1,000 tons, and is on target to contribute about 5% of vegetables from Singapore’s small agricultural sector.

Panasonic’s cultivation area has expanded from 77 sq. meters to 634 sq. meters over the past year, raising production from 3.6 tons to 81 tons with 38 items of produce. A spokesperson said that the company is also looking to expand beyond Singapore.

Hideki Baba, managing director of Panasonic Factory Solutions Asia Pacific, hopes the farm will contribute to “Singapore’s food self-sufficiency”, and noted “growing support for local production in recent years”.

Food security is an important issue for the government. About 90% must be imported at present, and Singapore’s few existing vegetable farms produce mainly leafy vegetables and bean sprouts. Other vegetables come from countries like Australia, China and Malaysia. With land and resources so scarce, the government is supporting innovative cultivation methods to reduce import dependency.

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