Vertical farm pioneer toppled by rising energy costs

A file photo showing crops being grown under led lighting. Photo:
A file photo showing crops being grown under led lighting. Photo:

Vertical horticulture pioneer Future Crops in Poeldijk was declared bankrupt on Tuesday following other closures in what is now an ailing sector.

Curator Jan Joost Wittekamp was not available for comment but rising production costs caused by high energy prices are probably at the bottom of it, the Financieele Dagblad said.

The ‘biggest vertical farm in Europe,’ as it advertised itself three years ago, depends on electricity to power the artificial lighting system used to grow its stacked layers of herbs and soft fruit.

The farm, set up by Israeli management and financed by American steel magnates Lerman, comprised 3000 square metres of floor space over nine floors and grew some 85 tonnes of produce a year. The Albert Heijn supermarket group was among its customers, the FD said.

Investment in vertical horticulture had become a worldwide hype among private investors, the FD said, particularly because it was deemed to more sustainable than conventional agriculture. However, the war in Ukraine has made the led lighting that is replacing the sunlight far more expensive.

Dutch vertical farming business Glowfarms has already thrown in the towel because of rising energy costs while the German Infarm, which has its headquarters in Amsterdam, fired some 500 workers. At the end of last year listed vertical farming company Kalera sold off all its non American activities following a lack of interest from investors, the paper said.

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