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Indoor AgCon 2024 kicks off

On Monday this week, the 2024 edition of the CEA trade show Indoor AgCon kicked off at the Caesar's Forum in Las Vegas.

While a lot of things are happening in this space, one couldn't avoid the many reality checks coming after a great deal of grandiose announcements and greenwashing. This has pushed some investors to look at the vertical farming space with more caution. At the same time, unserious players have been weeded out, and still are, posing those respectable companies on the good path.

Paul Sellew opened the exhibition with his keynote by talking us through the hurdles that were visible in the past year(s) and that luckily, the industry is in a new financing reality. "What's normal is what we have now, as we're clearly in a new environment compared to before." Paul is hoping to see more than 11% of CEA-produced lettuce coming into retail that will be there to stay, supplying stores year-round.

He said that "greenhouse growers need open field growers as CEA is now complimentary where there will be a shift in CEA and field-grown produce, but the broken food system needs to be fixed. When focusing on the produce, and viable business models, we're good to go for the long run."

The Koidra team looking sprightly

Tim van Steekelenburg (Royal Brinkman) and Justin Leavitt and Hoshang Subawalla with Moleaer

This was indeed one of the points Paul Sellew from Little Leaf Farms made during his trade show's opening keynote. He discussed the keys to success in this industry and specifically pointed his finger at the importance of a good product and positive unit economics.

Paul estimated that only 10% of food grown in New England is consumed locally. That leaves a 90% of space waiting to be seized by someone. At the same time, this is of course more easily said than done. After all, category growth requires a superior product, which is characterized by three main core aspects: product excellence, product profitability, and product innovation.

"We started small and had enough humility to start low and know what we knew. Then we used those learnings to scale the business. And I think that's a good approach, and I guess other companies that have don't the same too." When being asked about the future for indoor ag, Paul is very optimistic and will see the larger companies take the lead with mergers, market share and more.

The Tecogen team in for a good show!

Tomorrow keynote will be given by Adam Bergman, managing director at Clean Energy Transition Group, and Global Head of AgTech for Citi.

At the same time, Indoor AgCon is not all about homework and no play. The day before the event kicked off, an event sponsored by Philips gathered exhibitors together to let them talk before the exhibition, and catch up, all while playing some golf.

Stay tuned for our next update on the Indoor AgCon!