Colruyt Group and MechaTronix present innovative CoolGrow® VF light for vertical farming

A vertical farming installation with the new CoolGrow® VF light is up to 38% more energy efficient than a classical vertical farming installation.

Colruyt Group is proud to announce the launch of the CoolGrow® VF light, a groundbreaking vertical farming light developed in co-creation with MechaTronix, one of the biggest LED grow light producers in the European Union. A vertical farming installation with the new CoolGrow® VF light is up to 38% more energy efficient than a classical vertical farming installation.

Sustainable business practices
Colruyt Group is a Belgian family company that's grown into a retail group with nearly 33,000 employees over the course of three generations, operating in three countries. And yet, the group has still retained the strengths of a family company, like passion, expertise, simplicity and efficiency.

Kim Vancauwenberghe, managing director of Colruyt Smart Technics: "Colruyt Group's mission is: ‘Together, we create sustainable added value through value-driven craftsmanship in retail', and that's not a meaningless statement. With everything Colruyt Group endeavors to do, the company wants to generate a positive impact.

"Sustainable business practices means doing business while respecting people, society and the environment. Because that's the only way we can keep doing business. We're convinced that as a company, we can use our economic drive to make a positive impact on a social and ecological level as well. We do that by integrating sustainability into all aspects of our business."

In order to limit the ecological impact of the food products under Colruyt Group's own brands, products are systematically examined, with the entire chain being mapped. Local production is an important factor in that, so that's a main focus for Colruyt Group.

Sustainable innovation
In March 2019, Colruyt Group's Bio-Planet stores introduced fresh basil, grown using the principles of vertical farming. A revolutionary development: the produce all came from a vertical farm developed by Colruyt Group.

Because of the ecological and sustainable nature of this technology, it attracted the attention of the Colruyt Group R&D department. After 3 years of research and development, Colruyt Group had its own vertical farm, requiring 20 times less space, 90% less water and 50% less nutrients than traditional cultivation. It stands out from other installations in the market with a unique concept that's highly energy efficient.

Energy savings of up to 38%
Developing a brand new lighting concept was an important factor in making an energy efficient vertical farm that could succeed. Following market research, none of the existing solutions turned out to meet the high demands in terms of controls and energy efficiency. An LED light was needed with high intensity and extremely low energy use.

Koen Vangorp, CEO of MechaTronix: "By combining the new LED light with an environment of highly reflective material, the energy input is reduced by 38%.

"The light is installed upside down, illuminating the ceiling instead of the plants directly. By using a reflector that spreads the light all over the ceiling and side walls, both the ceiling and the walls become a source of light for the plants. The light is 100% diffuse, so the entire plant actively participates in photosynthesis, which leads directly to higher production and a shorter time to full growth for the crop.

"Using advanced LED technology and the unique lighting concept, the grow light provides optimal growing conditions for crops in vertical farms, at the lowest energy cost possible. Thanks to the CoolGrow® VF light, vertical farms can grow high-quality plants year-round with a minimal ecological impact and, above all, a proven economical model, even within the European market. What's more, one fixture can illuminate up to 5 m² at a low height, which also makes the CoolGrow® VF the answer to lower investments."

The technology, as well as the optics, has been patented worldwide.

Further development in co-creation
The CoolGrow® VF light is the result of successful and close cooperation between Colruyt Group Smart Technics (Colruyt's Group innovation branch), MechaTronix, KU Leuven's Light & Lighting Laboratory, and Achilles Design. Development of the light took place with support of Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship (VLAIO).

This new, unique partnership combines the expertise that Colruyt Group has developed in recent years in terms of vertical farming, with MechaTronix' technological leadership when it comes to LED lighting in horticulture.

Colruyt Group and MechaTronix aim to commercialize the CoolGrow® VF light in the international market, in order to contribute to the further development of vertical farming. With this groundbreaking technology, both companies are taking an important step toward sustainable and futureproof food production.

About Colruyt Group
Colruyt Group operates in the food and non-food distribution sector in Belgium, France and Luxembourg with more than 600 own stores and around 580 affiliated stores. In Belgium, this includes Colruyt, OKay, Bio-Planet, Cru, Dreamland, Dreambaby, Bike Republic and the affiliated stores Spar. In France, in addition to Colruyt stores, there are also affiliated Coccinelle, Coccimarket and Panier Sympa stores. The group is a majority shareholder in The Fashion Society, which includes clothing stores ZEB, PointCarré, The Fashion Store and ZEB For Stars. JIMS operates fitness clubs in Belgium and Luxembourg. Solucious and Culinoa deliver food service and retail products to professional customers in Belgium (hospitals, SMEs, hospitality sector, etc.). The activities of Colruyt Group also comprise energy supply by DATS 24 in Belgium (fuels, natural gas and green energy), printing and document management solutions (Symeta Hybrid) and the production of green energy (Eoly). The group employs more than 32,000 employees and recorded a EUR 9.9 billion revenue in 2020/21. Colruyt is listed on Euronext Brussels (COLR) under ISIN code BE0974256852.

About MechaTronix
MechaTronix is one of the biggest producers of LED grow lights in Europe, and part of the 8 Lakes Group, with headquarters in Breda (Netherlands). From its locations in the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada and Taiwan, MechaTronix develops, produces and sells high-tech LED grow light solutions for greenhouse horticulture and indoor cultivation. The installed acreage exceeds 600 hectares of lighted cultivation as of late 2022, ranging from fruit and vegetable production to ornamentals and propagation facilities. Technological innovations are at the heart of the firm's success, coming from a broad team of internal developers with profound expertise in thermal management, thermo-fluid dynamics, optics and advanced light control technology.

About Smart Technics
Smart Technics is an innovative startup within Colruyt Group, with the motto: from inspiration to realization. The team offers a wide range of services, from engineering and project management to design and realization of technological solutions, both for the retail environment and for logistics centers and production activities.

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