Food technology and vertical farming are both growing markets. In 2018, vertical farming was worth $3 billion globally a...

Food technology and vertical farming are both growing markets. In 2018, vertical farming was worth $3 billion globally and it is predicted to grow to $22 billion between 2019 and 2026.

British-based husband and wife team Jamie and Marie Burrows founded Vertical Future with aims of being “the largest urban vertical farming company in the U.K.”

“We produce high-quality, sustainable produce, primarily baby leaf vegetables and herbs, as well as developing efficient and sustainable methods of food production and supply,” explains Jamie.

The company has one active production site which has been operational for three years and services more than 100 food establishments in London.

“We’re focused on improving population health by building better, smarter, more sustainable food production and supply systems,” says Jamie. “Advancements in basic technologies associated with vertical farms have improved the business case for vertical farming businesses.”

Jamie says this, combined with increases in population and urban population density, has led to a “steep rise” in the number of vertical farming businesses, primarily in urban areas.

There were no vertical farms as recently as 2010; as of 2016 there were 2.3 million square feet of indoor farms worldwide.

Food technology: Vertical Future is building two further sites which are due to open in May and July this year.

Initially, the pair struggled to build a customer base, as they had an “unproven product and business model.”

“Our customers really had to take a risk on us,” Jamie adds. Capital and cashflow were also an issue, and the couple leveraged their home to facilitate a bank loan.

Vertical farms use a fraction of the water that conventional farms use; around two to four liters of water to grow a kilogram of vegetables in a vertical farm compared to 60 liters in a field in the Mediterranean field.

“Food security is another key contributor to the rise of vertical farming, as well as political circumstances, which make local food production key for the U.K.,” says Jamie. “Moreover, with climate change afoot, vertical farming offers a unique set of solutions, growing produce independent of seasonality and other external, market-led forces.”

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