Press Release: IKEA to Grow Its Own Lettuce

IKEA is about to become self-sufficient in terms of lettuce as part of its sustainability strategy. In 2019, lettuce will be grown in containers outside its department stores in Malmö and Helsingborg. This project is being implemented in partnership with Bonbio.

The lettuce will be cultivated using nutrients extracted from waste food in a circular cycle. This lettuce will be served in IKEA’s staff canteens initially, but the ultimate aim is to be able to serve it at in-store restaurants.

“Food is responsible for more than 25% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. We have decided to try out this circular farming model for lettuce as part of IKEA’s attempts to identify innovative, more sustainable solutions for food production,” says Jonas Carlehed, Head of Sustainability at IKEA Sweden.

The project will begin by growing lettuce in high-tech cultivation containers outside the department stores in Malmö and Helsingborg for a year. The company’s aim is to grow the lettuce using plant nutrients recovered from 100% organic waste. IKEA Sweden’s waste food is already sent to various recycling plants, including the biogas plant in Helsingborg run by Bonbio sister company OX2 Bio. This is the plant where the waste food will be refined to produce plant nutrients.

“We are looking forward to an exciting journey shared with the Ingka Group, cultivating various crops in a circular system and economising on resources in the best way possible. Controlling the light, temperature, water and nutrient supply available to plants allows us to operate independently of the seasons, so we can guarantee extensive production of fresh, locally grown crops all year round,” says Fredrik Olrog, CEO of Bonbio.

It is hoped that this project will provide more information on how the circular farming process works and how high-tech cultivation containers can help IKEA department stores and other stakeholders to serve food grown more sustainably. The lettuce will be served in the staff canteens at the department stores initially, but it is hoped that it will also be possible to serve the lettuce at customer restaurants as well over the coming year.

In the long term, the Ingka Group – the largest franchisee working with the IKEA brand – will become self-sufficient when it comes to lettuce and other leafy greens cultivated locally in a circular system.

“This circular process will allow us to reduce the amount of water used and do away with products being transported over long distances, and we will not need soil or pesticides. The electricity needed to run the cultivation systems will be provided by our own wind farms, too,” says Catarina Englund, Head of Innovation for the Ingka Group.

A description of the Bonbio circular farming process

First of all, waste food is received at the biogas plant in Helsingborg, run by sister company OX2 Bio. When producing biogas, Bonbio takes advantage of the nutrient-rich residual product generated by the process and turns it into organic liquid plant nutrients. These plant nutrients then provide a foundation for growing new crops.

Bonbio uses a cultivation container 30 square metres in area, which is equivalent to a conventional cultivation area around 80 square metres in size thanks to the vertical structure of the system – cultivation takes place on four levels. There are 45 channels in each level, and each channel can accommodate 20 baskets in which the crops grow. This is a hydroponic cultivation system – the roots of the crops receive their nutrients from circulating water. The amount of water required is only 10% of the amount needed for conventional cultivation.

This is a high-tech cultivation system, largely automated and constantly optimised by Bonbio horticulturalists. Sensors are used to monitor various climate parameters; everything from how long the days should be to the percentage of carbon dioxide required to maximise photosynthesis and ensure high levels of production quality.

After 5-6 weeks, it will be possible to harvest up to 18 kg of lettuce from each container every day.

For more information, please contact:

Felix Östman, press officer, IKEA Sweden, +46 (0) 70 971 83 69 or felix.oestman@ikea.com

Fredrik Olrog, CEO, Bonbio, +46 (0) 73 656 65 75 or fredrik.olrog@bonbio.com

About IKEA in Sweden:

IKEA’s ambition is to create a better everyday life for the majority of people – our staff, our customers and everyone affected by our activities. IKEA products are made up of the right combination of form, function, quality, sustainability and low price – something that we call Democratic Design. IKEA was founded in Älmhult in 1943. Sweden now has 20 IKEA department stores, one Service and Pick-up, one kitchen pop-up and an online store. There were over 38 million visits to the department stores and 98 million visits to the website in the 2018 business year. The Ingka Group employs around 12,000 staff in Sweden, of whom around 7700 work for the department store organisation. IKEA.se twitter.com/IKEASverige

About the Ingka Group:

The Ingka Group owns and runs IKEA department stores according to franchise agreements with Inter IKEA Systems BV. The Ingka Group is the biggest home furnishings reseller in the world, running 367 IKEA department stores in 30 markets. There are a total of eleven franchisees around the world, with a total of 422 department stores in more than 50 countries.

About Bonbio:

Bonbio is a turnkey provider operating in the field of circular farming and crop production. The company offers financially attractive solutions and products to companies and consumers that, like Bonbio, want to create a more sustainable food supply chain and reduce environmental impact.

Bonbio has developed a unique circular farming concept that makes the most of waste food, refining it into organic plant nutrients known as Bonbio Nutrients. These plant nutrients are then used to cultivate crops of various kinds, Bonbio Greens, in cultivation containers that can be positioned directly adjacent to customers’ operations and near to end consumers. This closes the circular farming cycle.

Bonbio is part of the OX2 Group, which also operates in the fields of large-scale wind power, decentralised energy solutions and biogas production.