“With a large focus on branding in 2021, now we’re set to add another label to our company. Groots first labeled itself as a vertical farming company, now we’re becoming an all-around provider of food products, in collaboration with others. For instance, our latest ready-to-eat salad kits are a complete meal on which we partnered with a vegan company that adds the ‘meat alternative’ to the salads,” notes Alessandro Calcagno, Co-founder and Head of Marketing at Groots.
Becoming an all-round provider
When asked why they were taking such a direction Alessandro notes, “The thing with retail is that you’re either very good at providing one product to retail, or you’re expanding your product line to distinguish your company in multiple product areas. In this way, people will be able to find you on numerous products, rather than ‘just one’.”
According to him, it made perfect sense to partner with startups on the vegan side of things. Besides that, it was a unique opportunity to showcase what vegan meals can do, and the huge sustainability label along with it.
On top of that, there are many exciting projects ahead that are not just in the category of edible plants, but also in pharmaceuticals and other interesting crops. More to be disclosed on that end this year, Alessandro teases.
Groots' ready-to-eat salad kits
Scaling up entirely
After moving into a larger office space and growing facility at the same time, Groots has had its hands full with acclimating whilst also keeping up production. The company is still close to Barcelona but had to expand its cultivation area as it scaled up along with the demand of its current off-takers. As Alessandro describes, the first farm was perfect for the earlier stage of Groots, but it was time to step up their game.
Alessandro explains that they efficiently designed the facility in terms of production systems. The seedlings are propagated horizontally, whereas once they’re ready to be transplanted, they’re transported into growing towers. This method saves Groots a massive amount of space. To recoup the costs, the entire roof is packed with solar panels that help them mitigate the soaring energy prices. “Luckily we'd already considered this beforehand. Without them, there wouldn’t be a business I’m afraid. This year, it really raised things to another level.”
The pilot farm
Dried herbs, another solution to waste
Just about a month ago, Groots launched its newest product initiative Groots Dried Spisez which is a solution to crops that can’t be sold by supermarkets due to their appearance. Collecting the unwanted crops means Groots can resolve a huge problem for retailers as they normally would throw these away.
Once the crops are sorted, they are dried in-house and made ready for sale as a new product: dried herbs. The products, which include mint, basil, cilantro, chives, oregano and more, are not only sold in stores but also online which creates additional sales channels, according to Alessandro.
The 'dried spicez' range
Most products are sold to big retailers in Catalonia. The next step is to expand in the Madrid region into retailers, so, soon, customers can expect to see their products on shelves, as they’re in talks with various chains as we speak.