“We’re really happy to have launched in Munich and consumers really like our harvest-on-demand concept,” says Franz Drack, Chief Marketing Officer at &ever. "We just need to see how to increase the accessibility of our solutions. I’d love to see 200 vertical farms in Europe with this technology in the next five years."
Although it all started in Hamburg, &ever is currently headquartered in Munich which is also where the grow tower showroom is located. In 2020, &ever opened its first commercial farm in Kuwait, spanning 3,400 m2 and with a daily output capacity of 550 kg. The farm provides its leafy greens to Kuwaiti restaurants and retailers. The company also recently launched a grow tower in an EDEKA Stadler+Honner “Die Frisch-Nachbarn” supermarket in Unterfôhring near Munich.
Mega-farm and research center
&ever is currently building a mega-farm in Singapore with support from the Singapore Food Agency, SFA, and the Economic Development Board, EDB, and will be launched by the end of 2021. The mega-farm will be 15m high and have an annual production capacity of up to 500,000 kg of leafy greens.
In addition to the mega-farm, &ever will be establishing Singapore as its global R&D center to accelerate knowledge development and transfer to the mega-farm. The R&D center will focus on improving energy use efficiency through optimized lighting strategies and improving crop quality by evaluating different seed and substrate combinations. Moreover, &ever will be working to develop non-invasive crop monitoring processes through vision systems.
“We’re getting tremendous support from our local partners EDB, SFA and A*Star; everyone is keen to get this farm online. This farm is what we are most excited about this year,” Franz notes. To better address consumer demand, &ever conducted market research in Singapore by speaking with potential consumers and foodservice providers. This research has allowed &ever to explore the balance between western and eastern leafy green species to be grown in the mega-farm.
“Our team under the lead of our country manager, Kerstin Köhler, have worked with food service providers who are very good at telling us what products are needed and wanted. Some products are very interesting for certain segments of the value chain, so we try to talk to a lot of different people,” says Franz.
&ever is continuing to focus on leafy greens, microgreens and herbs for the time being. While there is a lot of interest in fruits (like strawberries), Franz explains that the company is focused on keeping its product range simple to perfect the growing process.
&ever's growing tower
In recent months, the vertical farming industry has seen major players taking a new approach to product branding by using brightly colored packaging. &ever is also focused on bright, enticing packaging designed to represent the company’s values and production process.
“We will start using colors that represent what we’re actually doing. Yellow for the light, blue for the water and green for our greens. It allows the brand to stand out and visually signals to consumers that things are changing. This shows that we are a new type of agricultural company. Stay tuned for that in the second half of 2021.” explains Franz.
Franz also notes that &ever’s products are also sold living, whereas many indoor farms sell cut greens, packaged in clamshells or other packaging materials. Moreover, &ever is also looking into direct-to-consumer sales of leafy greens.
In building its mega-farm, putting its products on European shelves and rebranding, &ever is eager to continue growing by getting consumers excited and developing more farm projects across the world.
&ever is a German agtech company offering three growing solutions, each addressing a different level of production. The &ever grow box is a small-scale system that allows growers to produce 15-30 kg of leafy greens per day in a small footprint. The company’s medium-sized solution is the &ever grow tower which is a small room containing a circular cultivation module.
Young plants are first transplanted in the inner circle and are gradually pushed further to the outer circles as new plants are introduced to the system. In pushing the plants further, the older plants receive more available space to continue growing without crowding neighboring plants. The grow towers provide a customizable output of 20-50 kg of leafy greens per day. Finally, &ever also develops large-scaled production system which it calls mega-farms.