Vertical farming getting popular across the globe

vertical farm 916337 640Vertical farming is set to overcome the traditional complex and opaque supply chain of fresh produce, improving the quality of yields

In the US, around 35 per cent of the produce on supermarket shelves is imported, with the rest coming from California and Florida. The average item travels about 2,000 miles to reach stores, taking up to two weeks to get there and passing through several middlemen along the way. This mean that produce in stores often loses quality and freshness and risks contamination. Hundreds of people in the US have been hospitalised over the last few years following E. coli outbreaks stemming from contaminated produce.

Vertical farming is a process where crops are grown indoors under carefully controlled environmental conditions, enabling growth for 365 days a year, with yields hundreds of times higher than traditional agriculture. By setting up vertical farms in and around major urban population centres, companies could significantly cut the distance travelled and time taken for produce to reach consumers, cutting out many of the middlemen in the supply chain, with local farmers directly supplying retailers or consumers.

However, growing produce indoors using artificial lighting and environmental controls is not cheap and vertical farming companies charge a premium for their produce – Bowery Farming kale retails for US$3.99 for 4.5 oz in New York City Whole Foods, about three times more per lb than Whole Foods Organic baby kale.

The "Vertical farming: 2020-2030" report from market intelligence company IDTechEx explores and compares the supply chains and economics of conventional agriculture and vertical farming, evaluating whether vertical farming has a future and identifying the key factors that could lead to the success of the industry. 

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