One of the largest vertical farming companies in Spain, Groots Urban Farming, has closed 2022 with increased sales compared to 2021. The start-up, created in 2018 in Barberà, has invoiced more than 90,000 euros per month (two percentage digits above last year), a number that the company aims to multiply this 2023. In addition, Groots has set an ambitious expansion plan to reach the Community of Madrid and other areas of Spain. Internationalization will have to wait for a little: the company's intention is to get customers from the Arab Emirates (they already have companies from this country interested in Groots products) and Andorra, as well as other European countries.
To speed up the deadlines, the start-up is about to close a financing round of 3 million euros (the intention is to raise it during the first quarter of the year, although half of the round is already closed). The economic item should also allow the company to increase the production capacity of its industrial plant of 4,000 square meters in Martorell and, above all, to make the Ebitda (gross operating profit) of the company positive (in 2022, Groots was unable to close the financial year with a profit).
Betting on the Martorell Plant
At the industrial production plant in Martorell, Groots grows basil, Asian vegetables, lettuce, mint, coriander, and red fruits, among others, for fruit shops and supermarkets. There are about 350,000 plants in the ship. The company also has a second warehouse, located in Barberà del Vallès, although its capacity is much smaller, with around 30,000 plants in total. Both properties have an innovative, optimized cultivation system and effective humidity and CO2 control.
"We can still get a lot out of our warehouse in Martorell and have more productive capacity. At the moment, we have automated most of the farm's processes, such as harvesting, sowing, transplanting, cleaning, and packaging, but we can still go further", says the co-founder of Groots, Joaquim Bas.
The company's farms incorporate software that provides data regarding the crop. This commitment to research and development has led Groots to collaborate with the pharmaceutical sector. "We have signed agreements with pharma companies to grow specific varieties that can only be grown in countries with extreme temperatures. With our technology, we can replicate any weather situation", explains Bas.
Despite entering the pharmaceutical sector, most of Groots ' customers are from the retail sector (supermarkets and fruit shops). Currently, it has agreements with Bon Preu, Ametller Origen, Veritas, Alcampo, Sorli, Plus Fresc, and Cal Fruitós in establishments in Catalonia. In addition, at the end of 2022, it also closed an agreement with another large chain, Eroski.
Likewise, the Valais company maintains its clear commitment to sustainability. In fact, he has installed a photovoltaic plant in the Martorell warehouse, which will also allow him to reduce energy costs.
Groots has several different business lines. First, Groots sells aromatic herbs through a replica of vertical cultivation inside the supermarkets themselves. So the customer takes the plant home. Secondly, it offers trays with the same plant in cardboard packaging. Third, it provides a line of vegan lettuce and salad mixes.