The head of the German firm & ever has ever said that his company’s new vertical indoor farm in Singapore will produce 1.5 tons of “green leaf” every day when it is operational in the fourth quarter of next year.
Henner Schwarz, Chief Executive Officer at & ever, told CNBC on Monday that he expects the products from his company’s new research and development facility in Changi to reach many Singaporeans over time and “make a small contribution to food security in Singapore” will.
The company, which competes with more conventional food manufacturers, sells live plants to customers, which can then be harvested at home when needed. As a result, it tastes better and fresher, said Schwarz.
Schwarz said Singapore is “not the easiest market for indoor vertical farming” because electricity is quite expensive and there are “lots of cheap imports”.
However, has ever received a grant from the Singapore government, which decided to accelerate plans to increase locally produced food after seeing how the coronavirus pandemic affected food supplies.
The scarcity of land in Singapore makes conventional farming a real challenge and the country is keen to find solutions that do not have a large footprint.
Regarding the price, Schwarz said, “We believe we are rating our products similarly to existing premium organic products that you can find in the Singapore market today.”
He added, “The price of indoor vertical farming products in many markets around the world, such as the US, is very expensive. Our system is really designed to make a meaningful contribution and it has taken us some time to get that To get things right and to have the most energy efficient solution on the market. “
In order to reduce energy consumption at the Singapore location, & ever plans to use a combination of solar detection systems and LED lights. It works with light manufacturer Signify to run a series of experiments.
& already has an operational indoor farm in Kuwait which has become a testing ground for vertical indoor farming as it has similar but different food security issues.
“We opened our farm in Kuwait when Covid really hit in March,” said Schwarz. “It was quite difficult to increase production capacity. However, the market acceptance so far has been really great and the Kuwaiti people really like our products.”
In agriculture, access to fresh water is a problem in many regions of the world. “We need 95% less fresh water than traditional farms,” said Schwarz.
He added, “We expect that over time, as our efficiencies keep getting better, prices can keep getting lower.”