Australian-owned, Indian cocopeat manufacturer Ecomix Australia is expanding globally to capitalize on the demand, particularly from a booming soft fruit industry.
Ecomix Australia – one of the supply partners under the umbrella of ProdOz International – has more than 60 percent share of the Australian market, supplying premium growing media, crop solutions, and technologies to the soft fruit, vegetable, medicinal cannabis, and propagation nursery sectors nationally.
Ecomix Australia managing director Martin Vadakekuttu said Ecomix Australia would leverage its manufacturing processes and control its supply chain to ensure a stable supply and price for growers around the world.
Established in 2011, Ecomix Australia is one of the cocopeat manufacturers to wholly control its own supply chain, manufacturing the growing media at its own facility in southern India before exporting and supplying to leading producers in Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and New Zealand. It also has a presence in South Korea, China, and parts of Europe.
Martin, whose background is in automotive and aerospace manufacturing engineering and product development, established the facility as well as the proprietary manufacturing processes and development of specialized machinery to process the material.
Originally from India, his innate knowledge of raw materials and farming has helped evolve the products to suit crop-based requirements.
"As both manufacturer and distributor, we can supply a premium product at very affordable prices as surplus production will increase with demand," Martin said. "Having a stable supply of cocopeat and a stable price is crucial for farmers as it ensures financial security reliability and contributes to the overall sustainability of the agricultural sector.
Supply could range from six to 12 weeks, depending on the final destination, he said.
A renewable resource, cocopeat is derived from the extraction of coir fiber from coconut husks and is a natural byproduct of the coconut industry. "The production process typically involves minimal use of chemicals and pesticides, making the end-product a more environmentally sustainable option compared with some other growing media," said Martin. "This reduces the potential for environmental contamination and pollution. It also has excellent water-retention properties, contributing to water conservation and promoting sustainable irrigation practices, and it can help improve soil structure when used as a soil amendment."
Ecomix Australia supplies a range of high-tech growing media products to Australian growers operating in the hydroponic and greenhouse space, as well as open-field production. New South Wales, Queensland, and Tasmania are its primary markets.
"We manufacture three types of cocopeat – washed, unwashed, and buffered. In Australia, where labor costs are high and producers pay a premium for water, 100 percent of the supply is washed to remove salinity, which is a natural property. In developing countries such as Latin America and Africa, there is more demand for unwashed. This is closer to the raw state and therefore less expensive. Buffered is the most expensive product as it has nutrients such as calcium and magnesium added after washing."
He said Ecomix Australia had established a key foothold in the United Kingdom after supplying leading soft fruit growers for the first time last year.
"Growers achieved some outstanding results from that first shipment. As a result, we now have more orders and are confident we can significantly grow that market further."
Showcasing Ecomix Australia to the world
As part of its expansion strategy, Ecomix Australia exhibited for the first time at the Morocco Berry Conference in Agadir and will participate at the Fruit Logistica in Berlin from February 7-9, 2024 as well. "With years of hands-on experience in developing substrates for different crop needs, we feel the global market can benefit from our products. While in Morocco, we will spend 10 days visiting existing and potential growers," Martin said.