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Toshiba expands to food production with indoor vegetable factory

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May 20, 2014

Toshiba's factory will be isolated from the outside air and have tightly controlled air an...

Toshiba's factory will be isolated from the outside air and have tightly controlled air and lighting systems, creating a sterile environment for the plants to grow

Looking to take a bite out of the Japanese food market, electronics giant Toshiba has announced plans to construct a vegetable production factory in the city of Yokosuka. The factory will use tightly controlled air and lighting systems to optimize conditions for indoor plant growth, the company expecting the resulting assortment of greens to yield JPY300 million (around US$3,000,000) in annual sales.

Construction of the plant is already underway, with Toshiba hoping to begin shipping products such as lettuce, baby leaf green, spinach and other vegetables as soon as July 2014. It is fitting the factory with fluorescent lighting along with an air conditioning system to keep constant temperature and moisture levels.

Toshiba's factory will be isolated from the outside air, creating a close to sterile environment within its walls. This means there is no need for pesticides and should result in a longer shelf life, with the company planning to sell on the produce to supermarkets and restaurants as vegetables rich in polyphenols and vitamin C.

Factories of this type are common throughout Japan, a country which has relied heavily on agricultural imports to meet its food requirements. By artificially controlling the environment in these factories, it is possible to produce large quantities of vegetables with a more efficient use of land, power and nutrients. Like other approaches to farming being developed for high-density areas, these factories have the potential to help cater for the food production needs of growing urban populations.

Source: Toshiba

About the Author
Nick Lavars Nick was born outside of Melbourne, Australia, with a general curiosity that has drawn him to some distant (and very cold) places. Somewhere between enduring a winter in the Canadian Rockies and trekking through Chilean Patagonia, he graduated from university and pursued a career in journalism. He now writes for Gizmag, excited by tech and all forms of innovation, Melbourne's bizarre weather and curried egg sandwiches.   All articles by Nick Lavars
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6 Comments

since it seems to be in a closed enviroment, it could reduce the need for pesticides and increase production since one can grow more in a given area. Perhaps it could mean lower cost for vegetables? I think this is a good idea, IMO.

BigGoofyGuy
21st May, 2014 @ 06:26 am PDT

replicate worldwide, reuse idle acerage for mini gardens center alone

IE an ex JC Penny store, some Govt bldg, urban office tower, or closed school for food prod & jobs.

Lisc for worldwide use.

Stephen N Russell
21st May, 2014 @ 04:04 pm PDT

@ BigWarpGuy

The article mentioned the pesticide thing.

For the quality certainly.

Slowburn
21st May, 2014 @ 04:07 pm PDT

Fluorescents instead of LEDs?

Captain Obvious
21st May, 2014 @ 07:08 pm PDT

I wish the US would smarten up and start a lot of this kind of farming.

We do have a facility near my home that raise shrimp indoors and it is a stunning success. We are already suffering a loss of crop land due to global warming. And we have compounded that issue by using farm land to make ethanol related products. Everything we tend to eat can be fermented such as potatoes, rice, wheat, beets, and corn. That is one reason grocery prices are going nuts.

Jim Sadler
21st May, 2014 @ 08:32 pm PDT

Are these plants GMO free? Do they require fertilizer? Are they grown in soil? Is the system sustainable, e.g., does the soil increase in fertility? How does this system compare in price? Is it organic?

These are extremely important considerations needed for evaluation.

Don Duncan
22nd May, 2014 @ 11:07 am PDT
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