Posted27 October 2022

As Executive Search specialists operating across the Food and Beverage space, Connect Search  is taking a look at the growth of vertical farming.

Vertical farms grow crops in huge, stacked shelf-like layers, often inside tall, specialized warehouses. The warehouses are carefully controlled for humidity, temperature, and light exposure to enable the plants within them are grown as efficiently as possible. This emerging market size was valued at USD 4.34 billion in 2021 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25.5% from 2022 to 2030. The market growth is attributed to the fast-growing adoption of environment-friendly production of fruits and vegetables.

Unlike traditional farming, indoor farming can produce crops throughout the year, increasing productivity. Indoor farming also protects crops from extreme weather conditions through techniques such as controlled environment agriculture technology, where the facilities use artificial environmental control, control of light, and fertigation. The technology is getting cheaper, too. So much so that vertical farming is now viewed as a potential sustainable answer to food shortages in Africa.

Companies involved in vertical farming include:

  •  AeroFarms, which runs the world’s largest vertical farm: a 70,000 square-foot facility that produces up to 2 million pounds of leafy greens per year. (They also announced plans to build an even larger vertical farm in Abu Dhabi for R&D purposes).
  • Plenty, a California-based vertical farming start-up that’s backed by Jeff Bezos and includes some ex-Tesla engineering talent.

Plenty, a San Francisco-based agricultural technology start-up, has established an advanced climate-controlled vertical farming setup as part of its efforts to reinvent farming. These upright farms, equipped with AI-powered robots which control watering, temperature, and lighting, produce 720 acres worth of fruit and vegetable yields in just 2 acres of farmland. The facility also makes use of LED panels to replicate sunlight, creating more optimal conditions for growth round-the-clock. Additionally, the recapture of evaporated water and recycling efforts contribute to less wastage than conventional farms. Consequently, the next-gen, AI-powered vertical farming technology, designed as a contemporary and highly efficient alternative to conventional farming methods, has helped reduce the use of both land and water.

The tomato segment led the market and accounted for more than 20% share of global revenue in 2021. This large share is attributed to the high average demand for tomatoes in all regions compared to other crops. Some of the most commonly grown vegetables, herbs, and fruits across different regions include strawberries, lettuce, bell and chili peppers, tomato, cucumber, and leafy greens among others. One of the important factors behind growing any crop in vertical farming is to validate the economic viability of that crop, ensuring an acceptable return for the grower.

Demand for food is expected to grow significantly, in line with a growing population by 2030, therefore adoption of the vertical cultivation technique will potentially go some way to coping with increased demand in an efficient, environmentally friendly way.

As specialists in Food & Beverage Executive Search, Connect boasts an in depth knowledge of the latest trends in this sector. If you’d like to learn more, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Connect Search today. Speak to one of our industry specialists on +44 (0) 1908 760 410 or head to our Contact Us page.