TOKYO—Toshiba Corporation (Tokyo: 6502) today announced that it will add a new dimension to its healthcare business by starting production of pesticide-free, long-life vegetables in a closed-type plant factory(indoor farming) that operates under almost aseptic conditions*1.
The company has begun construction of the plant factory at a facility in Yokosuka, Kanagawa prefecture, and will start shipping lettuce, baby leaf greens, spinach, mizuna and other vegetables in the second quarter of FY2014. Annual sales are estimated at 300 million yen.
Building on its global presence in CT and other diagnostic imaging systems, Toshiba is promoting a healthcare business that combines technologies and know-how from across Toshiba Group to support the development of a society where people can lead healthier and happier lives.
Promoting good health and a better living environment is integral to these efforts, and Toshiba is focusing its attention on improving food, water and air quality.
The plant factory is being installed in an idle facility at Yokosuka. It will be equipped with closed growing systems that integrate state-of-the-art technologies: fluorescent lighting with an output wavelength optimized for vegetable growth; air-conditioning systems that maintain constant temperature and moisture level; remote monitoring systems to track growth; and sterilization systems for packing materials. The production management system will be based on that utilized for semiconductor device production.
Plant factories grow vegetables in close to sterile conditions in almost germ-free cleanrooms. Minimizing the entry of germs and the damage that they can do considerably extends the freshness and shelf-life of vegetables, a major concern for retailers of cut vegetables and salads.
Toshiba will promote sales to supermarkets, convenience stores and restaurants, and also plans to meet market needs by offering functional vegetables rich in polyphenols and vitamin C, achieved by careful control of the growth environment.
In order to increase sales in this new business, Toshiba is also considering construction a large-scale plant factory outside Japan, and the sale of equipment for plant factory applications within FY2014.
Overview of the Toshiba Clean Room Farm Yokosuka Address:
1-201-1 Funakoshi-cho, Yokosuka, Kanagawa
Total Floor Area: Approximately 1,969 square meters
Vegetables Grown: Lettuce, baby leaves, spinach, mizuna, sprout
Production scale: 3 million heads per year (lettuce-equivalent)
Note:*1 An environment where germs on vegetables are about 1/1000th of the level typical for vegetables grown in soil.