Japanese electronics and engineering corporation Toshiba has branched out into agriculture, commencing production of vegetables at its Yokosuka Clean Room Farm.
True to its tradition, Toshiba has fitted its vegetable farm with the most cutting-edge technology including fluorescent lighting with an output wavelength optimised for vegetable growth, air-conditioning systems that maintain constant temperature and moisture level, remote monitoring systems to track growth and sterilisation systems for packing materials.
The plant, which will see its first production batch ready to hit stores by the end of October, uses the same management system Toshiba has developed for its semiconductor device production.
Located in a disused manufacturing facility, Toshiba’s closed-type plant factory operates under almost aseptic conditions. By growing vegetables in close sterile rooms, plant factories minimise the entry of germs thus preventing the damage caused by parasites and bacteria to their produce. By doing so, the plant factories can considerably extend the freshness and shelf-life of vegetables and avoid the use of pesticides and other chemicals that are potentially harmful to consumers' health.
The electronics giant expects its vegetable business will produce three million bags (one bag is equivalent to a head of lettuce) of leaf lettuce, baby leaf greens, spinach, mizuna and herbs, targeting annual sales of 300 million yen (£1.7m).
Toshiba is already planning construction of another larger-scale plant factory outside Japan and wants to commence selling of plant factory equipment by the end of 2014.
Toshiba will promote sales to supermarkets, convenience stores, delicatessens and restaurants.