Finished watching Hiroki Koga @ Oishii's webinar on #verticalfarming strawberries and I'm blown away.

They're selling $50 boxes of πŸ“ and are sold out weeks in advance.

They're growing rare varieties from Japanese Alps. I must say I'm intrigued.

Here's what I learned πŸ‘‡
Global market for πŸ“ is $27.4B

Three main drivers for strawberries are:

- people will pay a much higher premium for fresher/sweeter strawberries vs lettuce

- due to long R&D cycle, the first mover advantage is significant!

- strawberries are delicious and therefore memorable
But aren't fruiting crops less profitable in vertical farms? πŸ’Έ

Oishii claims the extra cost can be outweighed by higher premiums.

Without being specific, they said strawberries are roughly 5x the profitability of mature leafy green VF players
Strawberries take a long time to grow! So the development cycle reflects that:

1-2 years for cultivar selection
1-2 years for growing environment recipe development
1-2 years for Pilot
4-6 years to scale

Total: 7-12 years
Getting started:

- For the highest quality, selecting the right cultivar is critical

- Cultivar will influence optimisation parameters, taste and profitability

- Takes 2-4 years for selecting cultivars and 1st harvest
Research considerations:

- R&D cycle is roughly 10x longer than for leafy greens

- due to the longer life cycle, avoiding disease and pests is critical

-Data from GH is directly applicable and can help ensure R&D I'd streamlined to avoid multiple and expensive crop cycles
Growing considerations:

- what is the optimal crop recipe?
- how do you balance yield Vs quality?
- how and when do you induce flowering initiation while keeping healthy plant size?
- how will you pollinate? 🐝 How to keep happy/healthy Bees is paramount.
Pilot considerations:

- can you replicate the same result everytime?
- focus on your customer (who, how much can they pay)
- how much to handle in-house Vs outsource?
Scaling considerations:

- how will price transition?
- how quickly/efficiently can you deploy farms?
- does IPM change as ops scale?
- how will you source quality labour?
- what will you automate?
I'm very excited to try these and see whether they live up to the hype and are able to scale.

What are your thoughts on vertically farmed strawberries?

I hope you find this helpful and stay tuned for more updates on all #verticalfarming

β€’ β€’ β€’

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More from @francisbaumont

11 Mar
#VerticalFarming is innovative and risky. Access to capital is a large hurdle as reported in 2020 CEA Census and firms are hesitant to invest with a lack of proven business models, low margins and scarce data.

Here are things they look for that can help you raise funding πŸ‘‡ Image
1/ Show market growth potential

Investors are looking for companies that have found their product-market fit with high growth potential.

How big is the local market you’re serving now? How about potential nationally and internationally?

Ability to scale should be obvious
2/ Highlight your talent

The technology works βš™οΈ

It’s the acute risk in operating the farms that is complex. β‰ˆ50% of founders have no Agricultural experience and there's a lack of workforce for GH/VF. Investors like to see teams experienced in sorting+producing food products.
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