Standards and regulations for food and food production are designed to contribute to food safety, health and social justice. There are various certificates on the food market that should make conditions of production transparent to the customers.
Certifications are available for fish and meat products, fruit and vegetables and social aspects like fair trade. However, the growing market of vertical farming has not been included in certificates until now. New aspects in this form of agriculture cannot yet be taken into account – for example, substrates or soilless cultivation.
The Association of Vertical Farming in cooperation with Control Union UK will launch a certificate for vertical farming products this year. Organifarms spoke to Henry Ernst, who works at Control Union, and Thomas Heller-Regenbogen, who is a grower of vertical farmed micro-greens from Germany.
Henry, you did a lot of research when developing the Vertical Farming label. What were the reactions of vertical farmers you consulted?
Henry: They were great! Almost everybody agreed that we need certain standards for the topic which haven’t been established yet. The growers as well as the researchers have seen lack in standards like these.
Did you consider integrating the aspect of vertical farming into existing labels?
Henry: For us, creating a new label was the only option. Integrating aspects that are this new into an existing label would have caused more confusion than benefit. With the new label, we can be sure that we only consider the factors that are relevant for vertical farming and fit the specifics of the industry.
Thomas, your products from vertical farms have been certified with the EU Organic label. Why did you aim to have this label for your products?
Thomas: It was always an aspect of quality for us. We as founders all focus on buying good and high-quality food with many nutrients and ideally no or as few pesticides as possible. So, we figured, if we will grow our own products, they have to match these criteria as well.
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