Vertical farming in Switzerland: pipe dreams or opportunities?

Pascal Gutknecht from Gutknecht Gemüse in Ried bei Kerzers (FR) and Daniel Schwab from fenaco Landesprodukte are discussing the advantages and limitations of new vertical farming methods. "We can't produce in large quantities yet, clearly. At the moment, we see potential in herbs and Asian vegetables, but also in small-leafed salads and berries. These are products that require little space and are often imported. And this is where the advantages of vertical farming come into their own: local production and absolute freshness. That will drive demand," says Schwab.

Pascal Gutknecht (l), co-owner of Gutknecht Gemüse, in conversation with Daniel Schwab, Head of Category Vegetables at fenaco National Products / Photo: Fenaco / Manuela Eberhard

From a producer's perspective, Gutknecht says the driver for vertical farming could also lie elsewhere, namely in climate change. "In 2020, many complained about wet weather and hail, and in 2019 we were troubled by drought. These weatherrelated problems have become increasingly severe over the years, making life difficult for us. Due to this, every once in a while certain products will simply drop out; Brussels sprouts for example, or cabbages in general. In the safe and controlled environment offered by vertical farming, of course, we will be protected from this."

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