Latest Pure Genius Foods News
Jun 28, 2018
Crop One Holdings, Emirates Group Co-Investing $40M in Record-Breaking Vertical Farm June 28, 2018 U.S.-based Crop One Holdings, a global-leading vertical farmer and owner of the FreshBox Farms brand, and Emirates Flight Catering, a subsidiary of the Emirates Group, have announced a $40 million joint venture to build the largest vertical farming operation in the world in Dubai. Construction of the 130,000 square-foot facility is scheduled to begin in November of this year, and plans include for the farm to provide high-quality produce to 106 Emirates Flight Catering clients, including the Emirates Airline and 25 airport lounges. The farm, which will be the largest of its kind in the world, will produce in a fully-controlled environment free of herbicides and pesticides, while using 99 percent less water than traditional agricultural production. And its location near the Al Maktoum International Airport at Dubai World Center will ensure that the fresh produce grown on-site can be delivered to clients in a matter of hours from harvest. “As one of the world’s largest airline catering operations, Emirates Flight Catering constantly looks at innovation, and ways to improve our productivity, product and service quality,” said Saeed Mohammed, CEO of Emirates Flight Catering. “By investing to build and operate the world’s largest vertical farming facility, we secure our own supply chain of high quality and locally-sourced fresh vegetables, while significantly reducing our environmental footprint. We are pleased to partner with Crop One and together we look forward to delivering a best-in-class product and excellent value to our customers and stakeholders.” Although advances in technology resulted in an increase in food production in the MENA region in the 1990s, the region is still expected to see a food deficit of between 50 million tons and 90 million tons by 2020. As a result, indoor vegetable production in the Middle East region has been gaining traction with both investors and startups. This is notably true in the UAE, which currently imports 80 percent of its fresh produce and therefore presents an arena of great potential growth. “Today’s announcement is an important milestone for the Emirates Group, for Dubai, and for the UAE,” said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum , chairman and chief executive of Emirates Airline and Group. “This investment to build and operate the world’s largest vertical farming facility aligns with the UAE’s drive for more agricultural self-sufficiency, a vision which began with the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the UAE’s founding father. The introduction of ground-breaking technology at the facility also enhances Dubai’s position as a global innovation hub.” Crop One, which has been in commercial production longer than any other major vertical farmer in the U.S., has seized the growth potential for vertical farming in the U.S., where the market for leafy greens is estimated to be $8 billion annually, and is seeing growth of 10 percent per year. Additionally, the market for other crops including strawberries, herbs, and other fruit is expected to be worth $50 billion per year, according to the company. The company’s FreshBox Farms brand has been producing nine different leafy green retail products since 2016, which are supplies to 38 supermarket and home delivery services in the Boston metropolitan area. “Crop One is the leading developer, operator and systems integrator, well beyond the technology experiment phase of most vertical farming,” said Sonia Lo, CEO of Crop One Holdings. “We are the only vertical farmer with a proven model at scale, which enables us to produce the highest quality greens at a quarter of the costs of other major vertical farm operators and with 20 to 60 percent higher yields.” To demonstrate how cost efficiencies and scale in the vertical farming space have advanced, only three years ago in March 2015, RBH Group and its partners – Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group, Prudential Financial Inc., the City of Newark, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and AeroFarm – collectively invested $30 million to launched a 69,000 square-foot vertical farm, which at the time, was the largest such farm in the world. Today, Crop One and Emirates Flight Catering are building a farm nearly double the size. “We have invested four years building our systems integration and development platform while establishing robust capital optimization,” said Lo. “As a result, our capital efficiency is second to none, and this equips us with best mover advantages in breaking ground in locations where our innovation and environmental and food safety advantages are welcomed by cities, economies and consumers alike. This JV with EKFC also enables us to expand the success of our FreshBox Farm brand internationally for the first time.” -Lynda Kiernan Lynda Kiernan is Editor with GAI Media and daily contributor to GAI News. If you would like to submit a contribution for consideration, please contact Ms. Kiernan at email@example.com .