Authored by Association for Vertical Farming‘s Thea-Isabella Otto, this report covers some of the historical highlights that have contributed to the advancement of the CEA industry and provides insights on robotics & AI, crop-breeding, investment trend, and vertical greenhouses as new trends for the future! Notably:
Indoor farming has become a thriving industry in recent years, with private investment totaling over $1.6 billion in the US alone. In addition, the rise of indoor farming startups and increased investment in sustainable and local food production has contributed to the profitability and recognition of the industry.
One significant player in the indoor farming industry is Plenty, which secured $400 million in Series E financing in January 2021 with Walmart as a partner. Another major player is Infarm, which opened an urban farm in Bedford, UK, in June with 40 growing units and the capacity to produce over 500,000 plants per year. In May 2022, nearly $1.5 billion was invested globally in vertical farming during the year’s first half. This trend has been driven by the emergence of indoor farming startups and the pressure on industry participants to adopt better farming practices and technology due to the deployment of the European Common Agricultural Policy.
Emirates Flight Catering and Crop One Holdings opened a vertical farm in Dubai in July 2022 with the capacity to produce over 2 million pounds of greens annually. Meanwhile, Oishii Berry opened a 74,000 sqft farm in New Jersey in May 2022 to grow strawberries exclusively. In addition, Gotham Greens secured $310 million in Series E financing in September 2022 to operate 13 hydroponic greenhouses by 2023 with over 40 acres of growing space. This shows the strong investment trend in indoor farming in the US and Europe, where diversity in indoor farming applications has also been observed.
In 2021, 85% of private funding went to vertical farms and greenhouse growers, with only 5% going toward tech deals. Indoor farming includes various cultivation methods to maximize crop output in controlled, efficient growing environments. Research and advancement continue to drive the industry forward, ensuring its sustainability and growth in the future.