In the port area in Antwerp North, Belgium, PLNT is growing 45 varieties of leafy greens, salads, and herbs. The assortment is efficiently grown in two reused 40 ft sea containers. With an
automated carousel system from an external party, PLNT has 86 m2
of cultivation area.
In response to the increase in demand, PLNT swiftly adapted its business model by introducing a subscription-based service that offers convenient salad box deliveries directly to consumers. This strategic expansion allowed PLNT to overcome the sudden decline in restaurant deliveries, which occurred shortly after its initial launch.
"We want to bring agriculture back to the city," says Hans Snijder, Co-founder and CEO of PLNT. "I consider myself a techno-optimist, and with this concept, I want to make my contribution to the climate challenges we face."
Leaf Carrier: expanding cultivation capacity
PLNT's concept is catching on. As a first step towards expanding its cultivation capacity, the company chose to purchase several Leaf Carriers from Bever Innovations. The cultivation trolleys are used at the germination stage: the plants germinate in trays and then move to the cultivation environment.
For the germination phase, the vertical farm uses Leaf Carriers from Bever Innovations. "In this way, the company expands its cultivation capacity by over 30%," says a representative of the Bever Innovations team.
"The multilayer cultivation trolleys greatly expand our cultivation area per square meter at a considerably lower cost than in the cultivation carousel. We are still developing, and this fits well with Bever's philosophy. Their engineers work with us to see how we can make optimal use of the trolleys, for instance, in terms of watering. They look into our specific situation and respond quickly and adequately. That makes the cooperation very pleasant."
Keeping everything in-house
PLNT keeps the supply chain ultra-short and also organizes logistics entirely in-house. They harvest twice a week. Ordered today, cut tomorrow, and delivered to customers' homes the same day by cargo bike–in deposit containers to minimize waste. The quick delivery also increases shelf life: the cut produce stays fresh for at least a week and a half.
"We work with 'order to grow' to avoid waste. Should there be any leftovers, we offer them via the Too Good to Go app. A surplus cannot be completely avoided because purchasing from the hospitality industry is variable."
Slowly but steadily, PLNT continues to expand. This controlled expansion is a conscious choice: "Growing too fast is vulnerable, there are too many uncertain factors. With vertical farming, you are dealing with a significant capex that you have to earn back through very small plants. It is clear that you have to make initial investments, but as a start-up, I don't want to burn operational money for years on personnel, energy, or seed costs. Because technically, vertical farming is not yet ready to compete with regular greenhouses. It is when it comes to offering an alternative to fresh lettuce flown in from Israel."