Firm diversifies into growing lettuce as downturn hits demand for construction products

One of the oldest steel factories in Japan has devised an innovative solution to help it weather the downturn.

One of the leading producers of steel cables in the country, the factory was struggling to survive, as demand for steel products dramatically has shrunk by around 50% in the global financial crisis.

But it has reinvented itself, using the surplus space to grow lettuce. The vegetable is grown artificially with neon lighting and water and fertiliser, for salads.

The owners believe it will save their company. Half of the factory is still making steel, while the other half grows three kinds of lettuce, which is then sold to local supermarkets.