A new way of growing fruit and vegetables in the UK is starting to gather pace as from this week, a West Sussex fruit grower will deliver to Tesco the first commercial volumes of vertically-grown strawberries.

The strawberries are grown in a production system requiring 50% less water and with a 90% reduction in carbon footprint per kilo of fruit.

Even better news for space-challenged fruit and vegetable farmers, is that yields from vertically-grown crops are significantly higher than by using conventional production methods.

Direct Produce Supplies Ltd (DPS), who have been supplying Tesco with fresh produce for 40 years, have been trialling vertically-grown strawberries for the last three years at their farm near Arundel, West Sussex.

Now the fruits of their labour are ready to hit stores, with a predicted yield of nearly 1,000,000kg of strawberries to the supermarket this summer.

DPS have also said that more importantly for other fresh produce growers is that the vertical technique they used will have massive energy saving implications for the environment and also lead to better fruit availability and quality.

'Vertical crop production is a giant step'

Tesco fruit technical manager Sabina Wyant said:

"Vertical crop production is a giant step for fresh produce growers in helping reduce their carbon footprint and use less water, at the same time boosting their yields.

"For shoppers there is also a clear benefit, with consistent quality fruit and availability for up to nine months of the year, regardless of the weather conditions.

For example, right now during Wimbledon fortnight, the UK sees the highest demand of the year for strawberries but sometimes adverse weather conditions can challenge production at this time, leaving retailers with a shortfall.

"Vertical-farming will put an end to that uncertainty and ensure perfect growing conditions during an extended nine month season."