- The specialty food division of H-E-B will grow about half a dozen varieties of salad greens at a Dallas store for customers to purchase, according to Dallas Morning News.
- The greens will be raised behind the store in a four-level, vertical farm inside a retrofitted 53-foot long shipping container. They will be grown under magenta and other color lights, and will not need pesticides or sunlight.
- The cost of the produce will be similar to other greens being sold at H-E-B.
During the past several years, urban gardens have been appearing on rooftops, side lots, terraces and elsewhere around the U.S. That trend has carried over to some grocers who have started growing their own produce, such as Whole Foods Market in its Gowanus Brooklyn store, which grows produce on its roof. Target also is looking into vertical farming at some of its stores.
For H-E-B, while the overall cost of the operation might be a little more expensive to maintain than just buying the produce elsewhere, there are other factors to consider. In addition to saving on transportation costs, H-E-B will attract customers with a local mindset to the products, and that could result in more customers coming into the stores looking to load-up on other items.
Shoppers are increasingly concerned about where their food comes from and what ingredients are used to make them. In the ultra-competitive grocery space, any advantage that H-E-B or other retailers can get over their brick-and-mortar competitors, and those in the online space like Amazon, is invaluable and could give them an advantage.
H-E-B also is willing to work with local chefs to grow products that they need—such as basil leaves grown normally found in Italy. This will attract shoppers as well. In 2015, the U.S. per capita consumption of lettuce was 24.6 pounds. If H-E-B's initiative growing green is successful, it could be seeing plenty of green, too.