Priva Indoor Horticulture 2016 Recap & 2017 Outlook
Indoor horticulture is, at the very least, becoming a very popular trend on social media. Headlines, videos, photos, and artist renderings of modern farms are being shared faster than you can say “clickbait.” People love to look and share the beautiful feel-good images, and why shouldn’t they? The promise of clean local food, massive water savings, and a healthier environment are all ideas worth sharing.
But what does all this buzz that we saw in 2016 mean for the grounded, hard working, professionals who are actually building these systems? Well for one, it's reassuring to see that the demand for local produce will continue to grow - and where there is demand - there is investment. 2016 enticed several investors to make moves into the space. A conservative estimate would say 2016 was a year where tens of millions were pumped into indoor agriculture, a bolder estimate could go as high as hundreds of millions.
We don’t have an exact investment number to cite for you, but we can tell you that the horticulture industry coming to the customers in more innovative ways than ever before. For example, one of the largest US retailers, Target, announced a partnership with IDEO and MIT Media Lab to build an indoor vertical farm right inside their stores. Yet, they are already behind German Conglomerate and grocery store chain METRO GROUP, who is already growing inside their stores.
Growing inside the store isn’t the only method to get hyperlocal though - 2016 saw growers expanding above stores as well. Gotham Greens, who typically grows in greenhouses on top of Whole Foods markets, reached 95,000 sq feet in New York City. Similarly, Lufa Farms opened their third rooftop greenhouse. Yet, growing above the market isn’t just a North America trend, Build Integrated Greenhouses also began their rooftop greenhouse in Belgium.
With all of this growing up, it's no surprise that The Association for Vertical Farming, of which Priva is a proud member, grew to 85 business members. Additionally, Indoor Ag-Con hosted multiple events that we participated in including the 4th annual Indoor Ag-Con and Indoor Ag-Con Gotham. Lastly on the event circuit, Priva attended GreenTech, the world’s largest horticulture exhibition, in a big way.
At GreenTech, Priva unveiled one of our most remarkable innovations in 2016. The Priva Kompano Robot took home GreenTech’s Innovation Award due to its ability to significantly reduce labor costs in tomato greenhouses. This unique project carries forward Priva’s 57 year legacy of innovation. From our very first product in 1959, to the world’s first horticulture climate computer in 1977, to now the Kompano robot in 2016 – Priva continues to carry forward our heritage and mission of creating a climate for growth.
See this video of the Priva Kompano robot in action
While Kompano is a remarkable innovation, there are plenty of other crops besides tomatoes. For our non-tomato growing friends, we at Priva are armed with many other ways to optimize a growing facility. We offer water management including filtration, disinfection, and dosing systems for example. We also offer hardware and software for cultivation, energy management, labor management, and climate control. Basically, if there is a problem, we probably have a highly relevant solution.
We at Priva pride ourselves on perfecting these solutions through our distinct focus on the nexus of critical factors that will determine both the business case & the sustainability of any indoor horticulture facility. Yet, these challenges are not necessarily easy to solve. This is why business owners look to a reliable and experienced partner to help them optimize their grow environment.
You may now be wondering, where are some of these cutting edge systems and where will they be next? For one, Priva opened a California Office in 2016 to service that market. California is a logical place for Priva’s solutions due to its severe drought and the long tradition of horticulture in the state. California was also a logical choice because Priva already has very happy clients there. Click the links to read more about Priva’s work with our California clients including: Windset Farms (52 hectares of greenhouse space), Southland Sod Farms (raspberry grower), and in Houweling’s Tomatoes. Despite their complex projects, these cutting edge companies have found success with Priva products and solutions.
But of course, Priva isn’t just in California. We are across the world on every continent inhabited by people. Wherever there are challenges, we aim to be nearby working alongside our clients to enable their business to create a climate for growth. In 2016 we spoke with many of our customers about what that ideal climate looks like in terms of solutions, and we came away with new enthusiasm for our future R&D projects. The further optimization of labor, water, energy, climate, and control will continue to be a primary pursuit for every Priva employee.
As we transition from looking back at 2016 and forward to 2017, perhaps the most fitting place we can look is towards the youth. With new cutting edge technologies renewing the next generation’s interest in horticulture, Priva is thinking about how we can amplify our role in encouraging young people to grow food. This is why Priva proudly presented the Horticulture Award 2016 at Niagara College.
In 2017, we can expect that Priva will continue to grow and innovate alongside the doers and growers of the indoor horticulture industry. We can declare with utmost confidence that any innovation here at Priva will be sustainability focused, as we identify with sustainability to our core.
Meiny Prins, our CEO, will persist in putting forth her strategy for metropolises to mimic the Sustainable Urban Delta concept. Meiny’s vision and belief permeates throughout all 400+ Priva employees, and thus Priva will maintain its distinctiveness in creating a climate for growth. We hope you will join us in 2017 as we work to expand the impacts of our endeavors in bold and meaningful ways.