"We don't want to be compared to open-field or conventional farmers. Organic farmers are good, but it's not the answer to climate change. That's why we're not aiming for an organic label. Instead, we consider vertical farming to be the next step after organic. Our farming processes are a perfect symbiosis of wind energy and hydropower of which we can choose what energy we're going to use in the next 24 hours," Anders Riemann, Founder and CEO of Nordic Harvest, a Danish vertical farming company, explains.
Introducing a climate-friendly certificate
Anders would rather like to see her have some kind of climate certificate that goes beyond organic. That certificate demonstrates pesticide-free produce that's cultivated with very few resources. Nordic Harvest would like to see the EU takes up the initiative to introduce this certificate, splitting it into multiple tiers of climate friendliness.
"Looking at everything that's being grown outside, it is very much affected by external factors. Therefore, we need to further develop the technology that allows us to produce chemical-free products for consumers. It can only be done by developing vertical farming into a real industry and not just a marketing stunt."
Nordic Harvest supplies various kinds of lettuce and herbs
New 35,000m2 farm is on the way
The current farm in Taastrup, Denmark, is considered a 'Proof of Concept' farm, which comprises 3500m2 of growth area. Learning from this development, Nordic Harvest has now set its eyes on a new production facility of 35,000m2 without speculating too much on what to grow. Yet, for now, it's all about lettuce, herbs and kale as the first step.
The second step is to upgrade the plan and produce various kinds of peas. Now the POC phase is done, Nordic Harvest would like to upgrade its facility, moving into a bigger one. The grounds are already secured for this, as they bought the building next door.
A peek into the current farm
Expanding domestically (and abroad)
Nordic Harvest is supplying to Fotex stores and Bilka hypermarkets. Yet, there isn't enough supply as they are aiming to add to the numbers once the new farm is completed. The new farm will be able to supply about 1000 tons of greens per year. Anders let us know that they will soon be expanding into Salling Group's stores as well, the largest retailer in Denmark.
However, after this expansion, Anders points out that they'll only cover 5% of the domestic market. Thus, when expanding into a bigger facility, the company will be able to cover a large chunk of the local market. On top of that, they are seeing opportunities in the German market as Denmark imports about two-thirds of their lettuce and kale from them. Whereas the country itself imports about 80% of it. "First, we could export our products and later on build a larger farm locally to be able to supply even more."
Disrupt Western purchasing power
In the future, Anders' idea of a business case is to split up production throughout the year so we can cater to them in the winter, disrupting the imports from Morocco. Then during the summer, the company would produce plants with added value with a longer shelf life so a gap can be filled. "We have to be able to produce like this because only then can we disrupt the incentives of the Western purchasing power."
"It's our responsibility to demonstrate that the technology and know-how are available to produce food in much less space inside urbanized areas. The biggest production countries have the responsibility to motivate the next generations to be in the cities. As we barely think of transport, there are two types of them. Import and distribution of fruits and vegetables," Anders states.
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Anders Riemann, Founder and CEO