It all began in 1951 with knowledge, determination and one precious acre of watercress beds
Since then, we’ve added leafy salads and fresh herbs to the mix and are now one of Europe’s leading growers and packers employing over 1500 people across Europe.
It all began with Watercress
In 1951, the world of Vitacress began with 1 acre of watercress beds in Alresford, in Hampshire. Nearly 10 years later, Vitacress purchased more watercress beds in St Mary Bourne, a quiet hamlet in the heart of Hampshire, located near chalks streams offering the perfect growing conditions. In 1967, we began supplying pre-packed watercress to retail… and in ’76, we supplied ‘table-ready’ watercress (washed and packaged). After purchasing watercress farms in Dorset in 1977, we started growing in Almancil in the sunny Algarve in Portugal in 1980 opening Iberian Salads in Odemira, Portugal and a packhouse in St Mary Bourne.
1980s – 1990s
We then added leafy salads and fresh herbs
Throughout the late ‘80s and early ‘90s Vitacress started growing salads in the UK and Portugal, along with potatoes in Odemira, and pioneered fresh herbs in the UK (under the name ‘VHB’). Over a decade later, in 2010, Vitacress purchased VHB, creating ‘Vitacress Herbs’.
Growth and expansion (into Europe)
From the millennium onwards we expanded into organic production (2002), launched Vitacress as a consumer brand in Portugal (2003), started growing in southern Spain (2005) and at our farm in Kent (2008) and established Vitacress Real in The Netherlands (2011). We became part of the RAR Group (2008) enabling us to invest in new facilities and expand our glasshouses at Vitacress Herbs (2015) and refurbish our factory at Vitacress Salads (2017).
Company firsts inspired by innovation
Vitacress has done things slightly differently… in 2006, we started washing our salads in the UK in spring water (no chlorine here). We were the first herb supplier in 2018 to remove non-recyclable black plastic from living herb pots and in 2020, launched our Vitacress Farm Excellence in partnership with LEAF and the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust to promote biodiversity. We’ve sponsored research into new ultrasonic washing technique in 2021 whilst developing unique and innovative farming techniques to improve shelf-life and protect soil health.
Products, people and our planet
In 2010, Vitacress launched Steve’s Leaves, our prepared salad brand and just over ten years later, launched our premium quality fresh herbs brand, SEASON Herbs with over 49 varieties. Vitacress received Advanced Stronger Together Business Partner status (2021) in the fight against modern slavery and launched a long-term environmental plan, Second Nature, the following year to work towards net zero. Not forgetting the switch to 100% recyclable packaging at Vitacress Salads in 2022.