About a year ago, we wrote about a Danish vertical farming company that grows its produce in a former slaughterhouse. And they still do! Business is thriving for Grow Up Farm as they're currently building a second growing cell of 180m2. Luckily, production has been going well ever since the Corona restrictions have been relieved. All products grown are sold directly to retail and food service.
October 2020, the company took over the facilities of a salad company and turned two-thirds of the cold mail storage into a growing cell to expand its operations. The remaining third is cold storage for the outgoing product. The Danish vertical farm has big plans for its production.
Ever since last year, production has been going very well. "During the summer, there's always a significant peak in pea shoots sales in the country. Everyone uses it for their dishes, restaurants, home cooks, and so on," Lasse Vilmar, founder of Grow Up Farm.
As most of the country's supply of pea shoots comes from open field growers in Italy and Spain. Grow Up farm only covers a smaller part at the moment, but they intend to take as much of this market as possible. When southern Europe gets too hot in the summer, the supply gets very unstable, and this is where the company shows its strength.
The newest addition to the farm is a pea shoot growing room
Organic biodegradable hemp is used to grow every product, which allows them to be completely sterile. "In our case, it's really suitable, as we're growing in mushroom crates. Later on, the live plants will be transferred into cardboard boxes. Since hemp is a bit tougher than other substrates, it works really well for us."
Besides that, proudly, Lasse shares that the company managed to become organically certified in their new growing cell. Since we're growing on an organic medium, without fertilizers, the peas are considered organically grown.
"It really is a great selling point. However, being able to label our products organic doesn't change much to our prices. That's due to the fact that consumers don't expect a huge difference between organic and non-organic anymore. However, since it's possible to be organic, we should be, especially in these small production systems. Besides that, it's a great selling point, but again, you cannot charge a premium for it. So if we can maintain our margins in this market, I'm happy."
The product can be reused again
"Last year, we wrote about the hyped Eat-Grow-Repeat product," Lasse notes that they didn't do much on the sales front, but the product really carried itself, since 2000 bags a week are sold domestically. On the contrary, Lasse thinks that the product could have done a lot better, and the capacity is there.
"Since it's turning into an organically-labeled product soon, we're going to rephrase the bags to convey the right message. Funnily enough, we've been nominated for the packaging multiple times. It's a great experience to see other nominated companies. (I added the 'other nominated companies' part, I hope that's okay.)
Grow Up has tried to rule out the plastic and residual waste part in most of their products. Lasse gives away that the current price level is decent as the amount of product going into the boxes is very high. Since they don't have pots and other elements to fill up the space, it's a message they are trying to convey to their customer - efficient packaging use.
"However, going plastic-free is nearly impossible. Recently, we've introduced a recyclable bag for our pea shoots that allows them to grow again after cutting them."