- According to John Reich, Scientific Program Director at The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), many crops such as tomatoes have been bred to be more heard-wearing, disease-resistant, and long-lasting rather than tasty.
- As indoor agriculture is not affected by weather or location, FFAR has launched the Precision Indoor Plants (PIP) Consortium to support the research of the potential of growing new varieties of indoor crops with improved taste and nutritional values, starting with leafy greens.
- PIP is a USD15m public-private partnership that includes the vertical farming group AeroFarms, German agrochemicals company BASF, crop genomics platform Benson Hill Biosystems, LED lighting group Fluence Bioengineering, genetics giant Intrexon, the Japan Plant Factory Association, and indoor agriculture digital systems and automation group Priva.
Analysis & Comments
- Regular readers of our emails will have noticed that I frequently talk about some of the interesting new technology that is emerging in Agtech. One area where I see real potential from an investment perspective is in what is often grouped together under the broader heading of vertical farming (it is not always vertical, but it’s a good shorthand for non-traditional farming that does not need as much land if any at all).
- Vertical farming offers lots of appeal, including much better use of resources such as water and nutrients, and reduced need for pesticides. But it also has an obvious drawback: in many cases the product is more expensive.
- For this reason, we see the best opportunities in areas such as leafy greens & herbs, alternative proteins and where flavour commands a premium (we are all aware of the issue around taste of some mass produced product).
- Given this, I see the creation of the Precision Indoor Plants consortium as interesting and one that matches in well with the growing demand among many urban high income regions for better tasting and more “healthy” food.