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Ro-Gro unveils ‘industry-first’ B12-fortified pea shoots
FoodBev Media

FoodBev Media

27 March 2024

Ro-Gro unveils ‘industry-first’ B12-fortified pea shoots

UK vertical farming company Ro-Gro has unveiled the ‘very first’ pea shoots biofortified with vitamin B12, available this spring to retailers and hospitality. The pea shoots are the result of a collaboration between Ro-Gro, plant and microbiology research institute the John Innes Centre, food health and bioscience facility the Quadram Institute, and indoor farming tech firm LettUs Grow. They are grown in Ro-Gro’s vertical farm in Kent, UK, using ultrasonic aeroponic technology developed by LettUs Grow. The development is described by the companies as a ‘significant step forward’ in developing biofortified food, demonstrating the success of combining technology and farming to further a sustainable food system for the UK. LettUs Grow’s technology enables seedlings to be nutritionally enhanced with vitamins not usually found in plants. With aeroponics, plants are grown without soil and irrigated with a nutrient-dense mist. This increases the plant’s access to oxygen and boosts its health, as well as lessening resource use. According to Ro-Gro, it can guarantee a 14-day shelf life due to the use of the method, which allows plants to stay fresh for longer.

A small serving (15g) of the pea shoots contains the adult UK Recommended Dietary Allowance of vitamin B12 (1.5µg). This was the first vitamin to be selected for biofortification at Ro-Gro as it is a common deficiency, particularly for those on plant-based diets. The pea shoots also contain vitamins A, C and K, as well as a source of fibre and protein. Ro-Gro operates an indoor vertical farm, aiming to enable farming methods that contribute to more sustainable, healthier diets with minimal environmental impact. The benefits of its approach include efficient use of space, less water usage than traditional farming practices, and the removed need for pesticides, fertiliser and soil. The company said that microgreens are becoming more popular with chefs and the health-conscious consumer. The team has plans to continue to develop further salad products with added nutritional value. Jason Perrot, managing director and head grower at Ro-Gro, said: “We’re excited to adopt such advanced farming techniques to be more sustainable and also produce nutritious food. Only by working together across many disciplines of science and industry including agriculture, engineering and biotechnology can we address some of our biggest challenges like looking after our land and our health.”

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