The LUBINGplastic cooling pad system is used in areas where highly efficient cooling is required, and provides the greenhouse owner a reliable system that is easy to clean, lasts longer than paper, and allows your ventilation system to work more efficiently.
This system is used in greenhouses where humidification and cooling is required, and can be used for many different cooling purposes but is particularly suitable for evaporative cooling in greenhouses.
Watch this video to learn more and see it in action. And, visit here to complete details.
Pipp Horticulture has quickly become an industry-leading Mobile Vertical Growing Solutions provider, with installations in over 2,500 grow rooms worldwide. Pipp’s Mobile Vertical Grow Racks allow cultivators to maximize production capability, reduce operating costs, and increase overall revenue per square foot by maximizing their cubic canopy footprint without increasing the square footprint of the room or building. Pipp takes pride in manufacturing all its products in the USA.
Although Pipp’s entry point into the horticulture industry was through the cannabis market, Pipp Horticulture is not limited to any specific cultivation or plant processing category.
Instead, the company looks forward to leveraging the knowledge and experience gained through the cannabis industry to develop solutions for all growers. Pipp sees tremendous growth ahead. Rooted in what indoor cultivation will mean to families, cities, and the world. The possibilities are limitless.
Over the years, Pipp has strategically acquired several industry leaders in the market to create a well-rounded cultivation solution. These companies include Greenhaus Industries, Vertical Air Solutions,GGS Structures, and the assets of Grow Glide. Each of these strategic acquisitions aims to provide purpose-built solutions to support all aspects of your grow facility. Through these acquisitions, Pipp has assembled a team of highly experienced cultivators.
Pipp experts work with the company’s engineers and designers to develop innovations built for the indoor vertical farming market. They also support Pipp customers before, during, and after installation. They offer expert advice and help educate the community on best practices for building and operating your indoor vertical farm.
Planted Detroit, located in Detroit, Michigan, is a 20,000-square-foot warehouse with two grow rooms equipped with two types of LED lighting, two hydroponic systems, and a single database system for data collection and analysis. Their mission is to actively work to reduce food insecurity in their communities and come together to grow tastier, healthier, and more accessible greens sustainably.
Planted Detroit is moving ahead with Pipp Horticulture as its primary provider of racking systems due to its versatility which allowed Planted Detroit to add advanced ebb-and-flow hydroponic technology to the racking system.
Pipp engineers and installation experts worked with Planted Detroit to install mobile vertical grow racking systems that were clean and biosecure. The Pipp team helped implement a controlled environment agriculture (CEA) system to help better serve their community regardless of the season. Planted Detroit wants to ensure they grow only the best greens, monitoring every aspect of their environment.
After implementing Pipp’s mobile vertical grow racking systems, Planted Detroit can quickly access and tend to all their plants and grow 8x more. They cultivate their fresh greens on Pipp’s mechanical-assist carriages, holding eight tiers of plants while utilizing 3,000 ABS combination grow trays.Pipp then helped further increase the efficiency of Planted Detroit’s growing systems with our ELEVATE® Platform System to help maintain and care for all their plants on each grow level.
Companies will collaborate in Unfold’s Innovation Partner Program to enhance GoodLeaf’s leafy greens production, particularly spinach, utilizing Unfold’s proprietary genetics and vertical growing expertise.
DAVIS, CA, Feb. 27, 2023 – Unfold, an industry-leading seed and digital solutions company advancing the vertical farming industry, andGoodLeaf Farms, Canada’s largest commercial vertical farm, today announced their partnership to commercialize premium lines of vertically-farmed spinach and other leafy greens through Unfold’s Innovation Partner Program. Chief Executive Officers of both companies will discuss the partnership tomorrow in a fireside chat at the 10th Annual Indoor Ag-Con in Las Vegas.
“We’re very excited to collaborate with GoodLeaf to unlock the potential for improved quality and yield for their indoor growing operations,” said Unfold CEO Sonia Lo. “As a former vertical farm operator, I understand first-hand the importance of seeds that are specifically developed for indoor growing. GoodLeaf is the largest vertical grower in Canada and has already demonstrated its ability to successfully grow leafy greens in large-scale, fully commercialized vertical farms. Now, through our partnership, we will accelerate their product evolution with seed developed and optimized for their specific environment.”
GoodLeaf is currently expanding across Canada, building new facilities in Montreal and Calgary to increase upon its current production out of Guelph, Ontario. With the completion of these two farms, GoodLeaf will produce over four million pounds of leafy greens annually, which is especially important for Canada where spinach, lettuce and other leafy greens remain amongst the country’s top imports. Both farms will be fully operational in late second quarter/early third quarter of 2023.
“Now that we have a solid foundation in place for our operations, it’s the perfect time to partner with Unfold,” said GoodLeaf President and CEO Barry Murchie. “Having the right seeds to ensure our success is crucial as we grow our operations throughout Canada and help the country lessen its dependence on imported produce. Unfold will help us make that goal possible.”
GoodLeaf and Unfold’s collaboration is part of Unfold’s Innovation Partner Program, which provides vertical farm leaders unique access to Unfold’s leading plant biology expertise, digital tools and germplasm. This access is a competitive advantage to vertical farmers who often lack proficiency in seed genetics and agronomics for indoor farming, and, as a result, are left to rely on suboptimal seeds that generate reduced quality and yields. Through industry collaborations such as this, Unfold is working to address these core challenges head on.
“All of our leafy greens are grown with passion, care and precision,” Murchie continued. “Our partnership with Unfold will help us accelerate the development of even more productive, premium-quality leafy greens. Our R&D team is excited to collaborate with their counterparts at Unfold to take our efforts a leap forward and develop new varieties with enhanced yield, taste, nutritional value and sustainability.”
In fact, both organizations have sustainability as a core value. Working together they aim to develop varieties of leafy greens, most notably spinach, that require less time and energy to produce while enhancing traits valued by consumers, like crunch, colour and taste. These new varieties will boost GoodLeaf’s produce output while lowering its production costs, allowing the Company to increase the accessibility of fresh vegetables closer to consumers’ homes as they continue to expand across Canada.
Tomorrow, February 28, 2023, Unfold Chief Operator Officer David Nothmann will be moderating a fireside chat featuring a conversation between Unfold CEO Sonia Lo and GoodLeaf CEO Barry Murchie. The fireside chat, entitled “Bringing the Knowledge Inside, Transforming Vertical Farming through Seed Genetics,” will take place from 9:15 to 10:00 am PST in the Expo Theater. For more information on the conference, please visit https://indoor.ag/conference-program/.
Unfold is accelerating the “seed to table” capabilities of vertical farming with an integrated offering of superior seeds, digital services, and agronomic insight. Based in Davis, California, Unfold’s mission is to create a world where the freshest, most nutritious, and most delicious produce is available to every person on the planet. For additional information about Unfold or to hear about potential career opportunities, please visit our website at unfold.ag.
Unfold’s Innovation Partner Program provides vertical farm leaders with access to Unfold’s leading plant biology expertise, digital tools and germplasm. Learn more about the program at unfold.ag/partner-program.
About GoodLeaf Farms
With a passion for delicious, nutrient-rich greens, GoodLeaf was founded in Halifax in 2011. Using innovative technology and leveraging multi-level vertical farming, GoodLeaf has created a controlled and efficient indoor farm that can grow fresh produce anywhere in the world, 365 days of the year. The system combines innovations in LED lighting with leading edge hydroponic techniques to produce sustainable, safe, pesticide-free, nutrient-dense leafy greens. GoodLeaf has ongoing collaboration programs with multiple universities in Canada, USA and Europe as well as several other partners in the commercial sector. GoodLeaf is a wholly owned subsidiary of TruLeaf Sustainable Agriculture.
Eden Green Technology (EGT), an innovative indoor agriculture technology provider dedicated to food safety and sustainability, has partnered with PathoSans, a provider of environmentally responsible electrochemically-activated solutions (ECAS), for its sustainable cleaning and disinfecting needs.
Delivering “Greenhouse-as-a-Service” (GaaS), EGT designs, engineers and manufactures vertical greenhouses to help grow large amounts of fresh food that can be sourced locally. The company partnered with PathoSans because unlike traditional caustic cleaning chemicals, PathoSans’ ECAS technology produces a cleaner and disinfectant using just salt, water and electricity. It contains no added fragrances and is safe for use on foods and in food preparation. In addition, the disinfectant eliminates pathogens and molds that can exist on food, where food grows, and in food packaging and preparation areas.
“Food safety is our top priority at EGT and it governs each of our processes,” said Aaron Fields, Director of Horticulture at Eden Green Technology Fields. “That’s why we chose PathoSans to ensure our operations use safe and effective cleaning solutions. PathoSans shares our mission of delivering innovative technology with a focus on social responsibility, safety, self-sufficiency, and sustainability.”
Increasing Self-Sufficiency and Sustainability with On-Site Generation
PathoSans’ on-site generation system enables EGT to produce both cleaning and disinfectant solutions on-demand, without reliance on traditional supply chains. This complements EGT’s business model as it operates self-sufficient greenhouses using location and climate agnostic technology that enables indoor farm crops to be produced anywhere. Doing so allows EGT to address food deserts and help restaurants, grocery stores and governments produce food without the need for transporting long distances. The ability to now produce an unlimited supply of cleaning solutions as needed enables EGT to provide even more self-sufficient greenhouses to its clients regardless of size or location.
Through its partnership with PathoSans, EGT can also fulfill its mission of providing greenhouses and services that reduce waste, water consumption and reliance on greenhouse gas emissions. On-site generation of cleaning and disinfecting solutions allows EGT and its clients to refill spray bottles and reduce plastic waste. Without relying on chemical supply chains, EGT further shrinks its carbon footprint by eliminating chemical transportation, storage and disposal. Additionally, since PathoSans solutions leave no chemical residue behind on surfaces, greenhouses can save water since less rinsing is required.
“PathoSans is an excellent example of a partner that seamlessly fits into our process while bringing sustainable solutions to our clients with environmentally-responsible cleaning and disinfecting,” added Fields. “We plan to incorporate PathoSans solutions into more processes of operations and work with them on new innovations. Not only will PathoSans products keep our production safe and clean, but they will be paramount to the success of our Food Safety program of the future.”
As more consumers take an interest in the origin and sustainability of their food, they seek out agricultural companies dedicated to responsible and socially sustainable farming.
AllWell Greens is that company. Founded in New York by second-generation Taiwanese Americans, AllWell Greens specializes in growing heritage bok choy, Chinese broccoli, and other traditional Asian greens. The founders of AllWell Greens, spurred by their frustration with issues they experienced using traditional farming methods, spent two years researching, developing and testing farming methods in a 200 square foot indoor facility in downtown Manhattan.
It is in this urban setting that the AllWell Greens founders discovered that one of the main components of their sustainable farming success is the PHOTOBIO LED horticultural lighting system from Innovative Growers Equipment (IGE) Hydrofarm Commercial Division. PHOTOBIO is part of the IGE-Hydrofarm Commercial Division family of products, a company that specializes in commercial growing equipment such as grow lights, vertical grow racks, benches, air flow systems, and other products to support commercial grows from seed to harvest.
IGE-Hydrofarm Commercial Division offers a modular, high-efficiency LED lighting system designed for propagation and vegetative stages, especially for vertical grows. After four separate lighting trials, the AllWell Greens’ founders were thrilled with the results of the PHOTOBIO horticulture lights. Their greens were crisp, flavorful, and disease-free, and they were able to harvest two days faster than in any previous trial!
Impressed and confident with their results using PHOTOBIO LED lights, AllGreens’ founders took the next step of investing in a 5,000 square foot growing facility in the heart of Queens, NY. This space will allow AllWell Greens to scale up their agricultural operations and bring their heritage greens to market.
This new AllWell Greens facility is equipped with over 1500 PHOTOBIO lights on vertical grow racks. The PHOTOBIO lighting system exposes the crops to the perfect amount of light needed to optimize photosynthesis, resulting in higher-quality greens.
The PHOTOBIO lights are a game-changer for AllWell Greens. “We always knew that light was an important factor in growing greens, but I don’t think we anticipated the impact it would have on grow time and ultimately profitability,” explains John Cari, one of the company’s founders. “The PHOTOBIO lighting is so precise that we reduced our grow time by two days, improved our yields and significantly reduced our energy costs.”
Chris Mayer for IGE – Hydrofarm Commercial Division expressed “We are proud to partner with AllWell Greens on this project. Their dedication to sustainability and responsibility is inspiring, and we are honored to be a part of their journey. We look forward to continuing our partnership and supporting them in their efforts to revolutionize the Asian produce industry.”
Visit the Hydrofarm booth at the upcoming February 27-28, 2023 edition of Indoor Ag-Con in booth 707 and more about IGE-Hydrofarm Commercial Division here.
At Nuravine, our team is dedicated to pushing the boundaries of automated farming. Our vision is to be a component of cities of tomorrow, where large, indoor facilities can grow and process all of the food needed to feed the population. To make this vision a reality, we’ve been working hard to create cutting-edge technology that helps farmers increase efficiency and overcome the challenges they face.
One of the key factors that has helped us achieve our goals has been our participation in the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps (ICORPS) program. This program allowed us to travel the country and visit farmers, learn about their challenges, and figure out how we could build technology to solve their current pain points. It was through this program that we discovered the need for better and more affordable ways to run farming facilities, and saw an opportunity to provide farmers with the technology they needed.
Our flagship product, the Aurora, is a nutrient dosing system that optimizes the performance of recirculating systems for growers. The system includes a smart controller, peristaltic pump modules (Elixirs), and a suite of sensors that measure pH, conductivity, temperature, dissolved oxygen (DO), and oxidation-reduction potential (ORP) of the water in which the plants are living. With its cloud connectivity, growers can monitor real-time conditions of the plants and control the system remotely.
What’s really exciting is that the Aurora is versatile enough to be used in both small and large vertical farms, making it a great solution for a wide range of growers. Our platform is designed to continually improve, and we’re working towards making it a full automation platform that will control lights, HVAC, cameras, and other critical elements of a vertical farm. By making decisions based on multiple variables simultaneously, we believe we can revolutionize the way food is grown.
Our newest product, Flux, is a controller that multiplies the functionality of our dosing systems for both recirculating and drain to waste applications. We are also showcasing Nuravine Cloud 2.0, which gives growers an incredible amount of control in an easy to use and intuitive interface.
We are thrilled to be a part of the exciting and rapidly-evolving field of vertical farming. We’ve made it our mission to help farmers overcome the challenges they face and build a more sustainable and efficient future.
After receiving tremendous interest in our crustacean waste-based form of ReNu Terra while exhibiting at Greentech Amsterdam, we felt it was necessary to reveal our progress and introduce several new form factors at Indoor Ag-Con. The Re-Nubleteam spent the last eight months strictly testing the combination of materials and the attributes of most concern to growers that have been shared with us based on market demand. Now that we can offer a solution that is more sustainable than current alternatives, while guaranteeing lower pricing and a secured supply, now is the time to share how we were able to reach this milestone. Below are the tenants we felt that we need to be comparable or better at in order to truly make something innovative that currently resolves a meaningful grower problem.
It’s no secret that sustainability is very high on our list of priorities here at Re-Nuble, and we have kept it in focus with the development of ReNu Terra, our fully compostable grow media.
What happens to grow media once farms are done with it is just as important as where it originates. With the exception of rockwool and biochar, most grow media are manufactured using natural or synthetic materials that are organic in nature and therefore degrade over time under the right conditions. While most of these are compostable, many require an industrial composting process to break down completely within a reasonable amount of time. At Re-Nuble, our ReNu Terra line has been designed to be composted in any standard residential or commercial compost within a few months. The same goes for the packaging it comes in. This way, we help indoor farms become closed-loop, while the waste is turned into value simply and quickly. At the end of it, our grow media and its packaging can be put to use and recirculated into the food system that much sooner.
Another product development focus was to format ReNu Terra sheets and case sizes to achieve maximum growing impact with minimum carbon footprint. From a transportation perspective, we’ve designed it whereby each of our cases, containing 4000 plugs each (1” plugs), stack to fill pallets completely. By doing so, this allows us to stack two-high in semi trailers. For indoor farms, this means that when a truckload of ReNu Terra is ordered, there is no wasted space in the trailer and farms are getting the most out of the fuel, minimizing GHG emissions resulting from logistics. In addition, because our dimensions allow us to stack pallets and completely fill trailers, this means that logistics companies don’t need to unload our cargo in transit to reconfigure their loads. This saves time and fuel. From the procurement of our raw materials, to the production of our products, to the delivery to your doorstep, we take pride in ensuring that our carbon footprint and ecological impact are minimal without reducing shelf-life stability.
ReNu Terra is organic, light, durable and clean. We also thought about the experience for a farm from the minute they touch our grow media. We have made it as easy as possible to remove that first sheet of ReNu Terra from the case through a special design, leading to zero abrasion or damage to the product and no dust or fiberglass whatsoever. With our ReNu Terra line of grow media, we have worked diligently to provide all of the advantages that the best alternatives provide without any of the disadvantages associated with each of them. This is a result of years of experience that our team has accumulated growing as many types of crops in as many ways as possible, making us very familiar with the upsides and downsides that come with grow media. We want to ensure that farms don’t have to deal with grow media durability or design issues ever again.
Sourced from Transparent and Natural Raw Materials
ReNu Terra is made from natural and sustainable organic fibers specially formulated for the task of pampering an indoor farm’s seedlings and plants. The range of options, from plugs, to blocks, to slabs, are all wrapped in an organic bio-polymer that prevents any and all loose fibers and particulates from making a mess in your grow space or creating an issue in your cultivation systems.
We have formulated the ReNu Terra line of products to provide a clean start, the perfect balance of air and moisture, and to maintain their ideal physical properties as long as they are in use. Any indoor grower will tell you that great grow media needs to be pathogen and pest free. It also needs to be able to provide ideal conditions for healthy root growth in a stable manner for as long as an indoor farm’s crop cycle lasts. Compared to the alternatives, our grow media creates the conditions that support optimal germination and root development, while avoiding holding too much moisture at the stem where wet rot and opportunistic microorganisms are a concern.
Fits All Growing Systems
ReNu Terra grow media and substrates are designed to provide optimal performance regardless of whether they are used in NFT, DFT, Aeroponic, SAEF, drip systems or any other method. The nature of the fibers, the way the internal matrix is structured, and the density of the materials all ensure that the balance between air and moisture will be maintained and that undesirable microorganisms and insects will be prevented from gaining a foothold. We know that the indoor farms we serve have many ways of doing what they do, growing crops using various cultivation systems and techniques. But one factor remains the same: all of them need grow media that consistently works well in all scenarios. We test our products in various locations, simulating scenarios that apply to diverse growers and settings, to ensure that we have perfected our approach and can confidently offer the high performance solutions that we would want to use ourselves.
Ridderis committed to providing growers with the solutions they need to maximize their crops’ potential and prepare them for future challenges. Ridder collaborates with global partners to create and deliver Connected Smart Solutions which enable the operations for sustainable food and flower production in Controlled Environment Agriculture across the world.
Wil Lammers, Ridder’s Managing Director of the Americas, points out that a part of Ridder is best known for its drive systems – Operating air vents, sidewall ventilation, and screen systems in greenhouses. “The customer base for our drive systems is typically the major greenhouse manufacturers in Europe and North America. We are also working more with smaller regional greenhouse builders. But today Ridder is so much more than drive systems. We offer a complete line-up of connected smart solutions by providing a unique plant-centric suite of technologies that work in close harmony to master the major crop balances and processes in a controlled environment.”
According to Lammers, it is increasingly desired by advanced greenhouses and indoor growing environments to look for a complete holistic solution – managing plant growth and ensuring business continuity with a smarter use of energy, water, labor and knowledge. “Not only from a growers-perspective, but also from a business owner point of view. There is clearly more demand for a more integrated approach when it comes down to greenhouse automation and other technologies.”
“We offer individual components such as drive systems, screen cloths, climate computers and water treatment systems to guarantee optimum crop quality through controlled and precise growth. In addition, we ease work with robotics, labor registration and other smart innovative technologies. Of course each individual solution is high-level, but when they work together, they are perfectly tuned to each other to create the optimal growing conditions and controlled in one go”
Lammers explains that Ridder has a unique position with regards to what it takes to produce plants. “In the indoor environment, there must be a perfect balance between photosynthesis and the energy balance around the plants. There is also the moisture balance, which involves transpiration and the vapor pressure deficit around the plants. On top of this you will also need to consider the irrigation and fertigation of the plants and integrated pest management to maintain plant health. Since a controlled environment is a micro-climate, adjustments in one of these plant or climate parameters will influence another. Therefore, it is important that the technology used in indoor farms or greenhouses work in close harmony to master these balances and processes in a more effective and sustainable way.”
The process of managing and balancing irrigation, ventilation, heat and light will provide business owners and growers with a profitable bottom-line result of their venture. “Please come visit us at Indoor Ag-Con booth 704. We look forward to discussing your challenges and provide you with the latest insights on how both our connected smart solutions allow you to future-proof your business and help you grow your way.
Discover the latest insights on CEA automation, irrigation, energy and management at Ridder’s knowledge sharing platform: https://blog.ridder.com/
(Verona, Virginia February 15, 2023) – HYVE Indoor Farming Systems, a solutions-based, manufacturer of Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) systems and AGEYE, a preeminent leader in automated platform monitoring for vertical farms and greenhouses, today announced a strategic partnership aimed at bringing unmatched complete technology to the CEA industry and commercial growers.
HYVE is Central Virginia-based and offers complete hydroponic growing solutions with an emphasis on hardware, design, and system infrastructure. AGEYE, from the greater Raleigh, North Carolina area provides sophisticated artificial intelligence capability that monitors every plant within a system for more predictable harvest outcomes and the resultant effect of more profitable harvests.
According to Ron Acorn, President of HYVE, “Our goal remains to provide a total and complete scalable solution for indoor farming. We trace our origin to the LED lighting industry and initially began in CEA by offering a range of LED grow lights. Over time this has evolved to complete systems that include everything from heavy duty racking, controls, food grade trays with automated movement, robotics, nursery, seeding, harvesting equipment, automated tray cleaning, and more. The strategic partnership with AGEYE will now further enhance HYVE systems by providing growers with the choice for a comprehensive integrated artificial intelligence capability that will allow for revolutionary plant and system monitoring.”
Nick Genty, Co-Founder and CEO of AGEYE says about the alliance: “AGEYE’s focused core competency has been software and artificial intelligence (AI). Our AI systems utilize visual inputs and growth development insights and essentially turn them into autonomous actions within a system’s architecture. What this means for a grower is that we have a sophisticated means to monitor the health and development of crops through every stage of the growth process and invoke actions that will help to identify abnormal growth patterns that may adversely affect harvest and profitability. We can mitigate issues at an early stage leading to much better outcomes for the grower.”
He adds: “We are excited to partner with HYVE as we view their systems to be the perfect fit for our artificial intelligence solution. Their platform is a complete and robust scalable technology answer and our system as an integration will provide those in the controlled environment sector an unmatched choice. Together we will create truly exceptional outcomes by bringing to market an automated turn-key solution that can really be viewed as the standard for the next generation of vertical indoor farming systems.”
HYVE will be exhibiting at Indoor Ag-Con in booth 619. AGEYE Technologies is a platinum partner of Indoor Ag-Con and Nick Genty will serve as a moderator for a discussion on “Avoiding Nutrient Imbalances” the second day of the show.
At this interesting phase where the vertical farming industry currently stands, Netled took a deep dive into the retailers’ and food service distributors’ minds to find out their perspective and future plans regarding sourcing from vertical farms. The results look promising.
For Indoor Agriculture, 2022 ended on a down note, providing much fodder for speculation on the well being of our industry. It was unsettling to those of us dedicated to improving the modern agriculture system and provided no clear direction on where to turn. Often market indicators can be found outside the narrow scope of a single business sector. We thought it wise to tune out the chorus of opinions from indoor agtech experts and gain perspective from other members of the fresh produce supply chain.
Netled partnered with Iowa State University CyBiz Lab to perform a deep dive on market interest in vertical farming from U.S. grocery retailers and food service distributors. How did they interpret the consolidation of CEA growers / suppliers in the last several months? What are their expectations for the market in the short term and the long term? What can their insights tell us about the need for indoor agriculture in the coming years?
In January 2023, a team of four student researchers from agriculture, finance and management disciplines at Iowa State completed U.S. market research on the CEA industry for lettuces and herbs. The CyBiz Lab is lead by Program Direct Mr. Alex Andrade with research and analysis work from Mr. John Imerman, Ms. Morgan Hawkins, Mr. James Chism and Mr. Ian Johnson. The research focused on buyers interest in sourcing vertical farm grown produce and the factors of greatest influence on that interest. The research also sought to understand the dynamic between lettuce and herb buyers and growers.
Reasons not to source from vertical farm depend on the region
Survey participants included category buyers, merchandisers, business development managers, and directors of fresh produce from the top ten US food service and retail distribution companies based on annual sales volume as well as the top fifty US grocery retailers based on regional market share. 42% percent of participants identified as having operations in the Mid-Atlantic states, 27% in New England, 27% in the Mid-west or South and 4% in the West.
All participants confirmed they currently source organic lettuce and herbs, however only 57% are currently sourcing lettuces from CEA growers and 43% are currently sourcing herbs from CEA growers. 67% had sourced from vertical farm grower suppliers in the last year while 33% had not looked into this sector at all.
As for reasons why this group had not sourced from vertical farms already, the answer seemed to depend on the region. For those in the southern most states, there was lack of demand for high quality product during the winter months and a disbelief that vertical farms could operate successfully in areas of high heat or humidity. To the north, it seemed that the growers were unable to meet the consistent supply of high quality product required. Others said that they were satisfied with seasonal products from local suppliers and did not yet have demand for local product in the colder months. There was also a group of respondents who were still researching options and had not determine which vertical farm company to partner with yet.
It is also interesting to note that of the group who has not sourced from vertical farms yet, only 17% said it was somewhat unlikely that they would ever source from a vertical farm grower. Of those who are currently sourcing from vertical farms, 33% responded that they are extremely likely to expand sourcing from this sector in the future while the remaining 67% said they were somewhat likely. No respondents replied that they were undecided or not likely.
When asked the reasons why these buyers had sourced from vertical farms in the first place, most respondents listed concerns about supply from California, Arizona and Mexico as well as higher costs that they must pass along to their customers. Consistency and reliability of supply are the key
Although there are concerns about the consistency and reliability of lettuce and herb supply from vertical farms, there is equal or greater concern about conventional supply for the same reasons. There may not be direct demand from end consumers for vertical farm grown produce yet, but there is hesitation on the part of the retailer and distributor in not offering these alternatives to their customers. It is reasonable to infer that there will be forgiveness in the supply chain as the vertical farm industry improves upon growing techniques and financial planning to ensure the success of their businesses. As one retailer noted, “it is now the responsibility of the grower and the retailers to successfully market vertical farm grown produce and educate the consumer on the benefits”.
At Netled, we interpret that as a sign of great things to come for our industry. We recognize the importance of building strong partnerships with our business customers and focusing efforts on promoting our industry and educating our end consumer. We are also confident in both our proprietary Vera® vertical farm technology and our farm management abilities. The data points we are monitoring at our two commercial scale farms in the Nordics as well as our demo farm in Canada continue to outperform expectations. This is on levels of energy consumption as well as quality of the product. We look forward to discussing our research findings and sharing information on our commercial scale Vera® vertical farm systems at Indoor Ag-Con and The NGA Show later this month. You’ll find Netled at the booth #517 and CEO Niko Kivioja speaking at the panel ‘Hardball: The State of the Vertical Farming Industry’ on Monday at 2:00pm.
Kasey Snyder is Sales Operations Manager at Netled, supporting new business development globally. As a native of New Jersey, she has lived in Finland for the last seven years and enjoys exploring international opportunities to expand vertical farming.