Murcian vegetable specialist Agromediterránea has announced a new project to launch a range of living lettuces grown in a controlled environment without the use of herbicides and pesticides.

The hydroponically-grown lettuces, developed by the Centre of Agricultural Innovation (CIAM) in Valencia, are sold with their roots on to allow the product to reach the consumer in an even fresher and more sustainable state.

Vicent Mañez, head of innovation, said: “with this project, we are operating at the cutting-edge of the sector by offering our customers what consumers are demanding: fresh, completely safe products straight from the fields.

“We have spent years reducing, if not directly eliminating, the use of plant health products and developing closed, vertical crops that do not impact on the soil and which enable us to reuse 100 per cent of the water used.”

The project will focus initially on the oak leaf lettuce variety, with other varieties being added in the medium- to long-term.

This is one of a number of sustainability projects Agromediterránea is working on. The company has over 4,000ha of field crop production located in seven provinces that use rainwater collection systems and lower-volume irrigation to enable them to achieve a water saving of 30 per cent.

It also uses harvesting machinery to clean and package vegetables straight from the fields, allowing for more efficient distribution. Its packhouse is equipped with LED technology and, to reduce carbon emissions, it works with pooling systems using returnable packaging, with a design that uses biodegradable or biocompostable materials. Furthermore, it has implemented reverse logistics to recover and recycle all the materials.

The company sells its products in 25markets across the whole of Europe.