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Coles enters 10 year contract for tomatoes powered by sun and seawater

Coles’ customers are eating more tomatoes than ever before and demand for the popular truss tomato has recently outstripped supply. But the future looks bright, thanks to a new 20-hectare solar-powered, seawater-irrigated greenhouse which is currently being built by Sundrop Farms. The greenhouse will open in 2016 in Port Augusta, South Australia, to provide sustainable truss tomatoes exclusively to Coles customers 365 days of the year for the next 10 years.

“Importantly, the Coles partnership allows Sundrop Farms to make a long-term commitment to regional South Australia” says Philipp Saumweber, Sundrop’s Chief Executive Officer.

Sundrop Farms’ innovative greenhouse system enables the business to grow food where land is too arid for farming and fresh water is in short supply.

“Farming with typical agricultural inputs would otherwise be unsustainable in these regions, so solar power is used to heat, power, and water the crops. While a conventional greenhouse would use groundwater for irrigation, gas for heating, and electricity for cooling, our system relies on seawater and sunlight for its energy and water needs. We then use carbon dioxide and nutrients to encourage the best possible yield from our crops.

“The salt and nutrients collected during our desalination process can be reused to either fertilize crops or sold on to other agricultural producers. Our ventilation system also uses seawater to clean and sterilize the air, making it possible to grow crops using natural pest management. “

John Durkan, Coles’ Managing Director, is pleased with the outcome. “This is the first time that we have signed a contract of this length for Australian grown fresh produce and we are delighted it will be supporting the creation of 300 new jobs and investment in South Australia.”