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[email protected]: Conclusions

2 years ago

2 min read

Commercial indoor urban farming requires engineers, horticulturists, data scientists, HVAC specialists, plant scientists and more, all with the knowledge and understanding of controlled- environment agriculture. The urban farmer is also confronted with specific logistics and downstream supply chain management, and therefore needs to know both the business and operational sides of urban farming. Topics such as market analysis, operational management, labour modelling, marketing, determining price points, logistics and distribution are key components that all urban farms utilize. Commercial indoor urban farming is a new and relatively untested field of business. In megacities in East Asia and the Middle East, it has the potential to make a significant contribution to the urban food supply chain. In North America and Europe, on the other hand, urban farms simply cannot compete with peri-urban and rural farms due to their limited size and the higher production costs per unit of output, and widespread changes to legislation and governance that would facilitate them are therefore unlikely to occur. However, they do offer opportunities to create high value, premium products which can be highly profitable. While the fruit and vegetable products cannot be marketed as ‘organic’ in Europe, since certification is restricted to soil-based farms, premium prices can still be obtained by emphasising the local nature of production, rather than the technology that was used to produce them. Other high value products that could be profitable to grow in indoor urban farms include medicinal plants, crocus (for saffron), samphire, watercress, and edible snails. Whatever the product, the typology of the farm – rooftop greenhouse, plant factory, container farm etc. – needs to be suited to it, and the product needs to be suited to the customer base. However, while quality products and processes are of great importance, they will not decide a company’s success or failure: a company’s fate increasingly depends on its ability to apply the appropriate innovative business model that differentiates it from its competitors.

Copyright © Partners of the [email protected] Project. [email protected] is an Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership in Higher Education (2017-2020) led by the University of Greenwich, in collaboration with the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (Switzerland), the Technical University of Madrid (Spain), the University of Ljubljana and the Biotechnical Centre Naklo (Slovenia).

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