Purple LEDs help old Singapore factory turn out salad greens

Purple LEDs help old Singapore factory turn out salad greens

TOKYO - As incomes rise and food-safety concerns swell, the idea of factory-produced vegetables is appealing to more Southeast Asians.

Singapore leads the regional trend. Factory farms that use strict quality and environmental controls present an attractive alternative to a city that is heavily reliant on veggie imports.

A familiar brand is involved in the farms, but one known more for its electronics than for vitamin C, folate and iron. Still, there it is, the name "Panasonic," right there on the label of a package of mixed greens that Singaporeans see when shopping for ready-to-eat salads.

Panasonic began selling the salads in the tiny country in November. In Singapore, imports from around the world dominate most produce aisles.

Paying a premium

Priced at $6.90, the salads - lettuce, mizuna and red pepper slices in plastic containers -- are roughly twice as expensive as comparable packaged greens imported from Malaysia. Shoppers seem undeterred. After some stores began running out of the Panasonic-grown nutrients, other retailers wanted to begin stocking the salads, too. Now 26 locations sell the greens.

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