The global vertical farming crops market size was valued at USD 429.1 million in 2022. It is expected to reach USD 3,509.04 million by 2031, growing at a CAGR of 25.3% during the forecast period (2023–2031).
"Vertical farming" refers to an approach to urban agriculture that involves growing plants on an incline. Rather than cultivating a single crop layer, stacked crops are cultivated vertically over a vast land. They are typically grown indoors and rely solely on light-emitting diodes (LEDs) for illumination. However, some crops are grown using vertical farms housed in greenhouses. Compared to conventional farming methods, vertical farming's short growth cycles and high nutrient content result from an artificial environment generated inside a facility using technologies. Technology like climate control, air purification, lighting, and pump and irrigation systems are essential to plant development, productivity, and quality. Since it does not require the use of soil, vertical farming is gaining popularity as a means to boost crop productivity without requiring more acreage. Grow systems, including hydroponics, aeroponics, and aquaponics, are used to nurture plants.
Currently, the U.S. imports 35% of its products, which travels up to 2,000 miles. Consumers are concerned about who handles their food, where it comes from, and how far it is traversed. These elements help consumers assess crop quality and freshness. Due to a greater focus on food and health security, consumer behavior has increased. Only some foods are grown in cities, where most consumers live. Demand for locally grown pesticide-free, vertically farmed crops has risen. Vertical farms are built near retailers or consumers. Their short supply chain allows them to deliver fresh produce as soon as it is harvested, keeping it appealing and edible for longer. Due to their accessibility, freshness, flavor, texture, and nutritional qualities in the area, vertical farm crops are in high demand. These factors are growing the vertical farm market.
The development of technology, machine learning, and the Internet of Things (IoT) has made it possible for cultivators of vertical farming to monitor their farms and the various crop growth mechanisms remotely. These sophisticated computer programs offer data with greater accuracy and a higher volume of use, including information on everything from humidity levels to anticipated crop production. This enables growers to identify pests, illnesses, and changes in the product's nutritional value. The American agritech startup Iron Ox, which has developed one of the world's first fully autonomous vertical farms, is among the most recent technological developments. Two robots are currently used in a small-scale hydroponic farm experiment to plant, maintain, and harvest food. On its robotic farm, Iron Ox is said to be able to cultivate the equivalent of 30 acres of outdoor farming on one square foot.
In today's vertical farms, high-value, quickly growing, small-footprint, and quick-turnover crops are the focus. These include plants like lettuce, kale, chard, herbs, and other ingredients for salads. Grain crops and other slower-growing plants still need to be considered economically feasible for vertical farming. Additionally, ongoing R&D investments are being made by both private and public organizations to develop crop varieties further and determine their economic viability.
In addition to the rise in consumer demand for low-cost, high-quality local produce, there are now more distribution options for vertical farming crops. The growth in the "farm-to-table" culinary trend has accelerated the market for indoor crops. Additionally, growers have committed to providing products within a few hours of harvest in response to demand and have given chefs free samples. For instance, FarmOne has adopted this strategy, cultivating rare/particular crops grown to order in smaller quantities exclusively for chefs and high-end restaurants. Siam Queen basil, Tabasco Green Leaf, edible flowers, Moringa leaves, and other crop varieties are among them. Vertical farming crop cultivators can use this business model or strategy to increase sales and gain a firm foothold in the market.
The global vertical farming crops market is segmented by crop type, end-user, and farming technique.
Based on crop type, the global vertical farming crops market is bifurcated into tomatoes, leafy greens, and herbs.
The leafy greens segment is the highest contributor to the market and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 26.7% during the forecast period. Vegetables like lettuce, spinach, chard, kale, arugula, watercress, sage, and others are included in the segment of leafy greens. Due to their high value, small size, rapid growth, and quick turnover, these greens hold the largest share of the market for vertical farming crops. They also fit perfectly for vertical layer stacking for maximum output and yield. Green leafy vegetables are sold as individual heads, leaves, or salad mixtures. Lettuce is the largest and most popular green leafy crop in vertical farming. In contrast to iceberg lettuce grown in soil, loose-head lettuce has received strong support in vertical farming systems. This is explained by the ability of loose-leaf lettuces to regenerate and replace themselves throughout the growing season and the fact that they can be picked individually. This procedure makes it possible to extend the harvest, having a positive effect.
Basil, cilantro, parsley, mustard, mint, chives, and other herbs are included in the segment for herbs. Basil is regarded as the ideal crop for vertical farming because, in contrast to conventional soil growing, it responds very well to the climate-controlled conditions of a vertical farming facility. Basil, grown hydroponically, is thought to have a deeper flavor and 20–40% more oils than its conventional counterpart. Similarly, chives and mint are regarded as the best herbs to start vertical farming because they require little maintenance and yield quick results. They are incredibly well-liked by consumers due to their distinctive flavors.
Based on the end-user, the global vertical farming crops market is bifurcated into direct retail and food service.
The direct retail segment owns the highest market and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 26.2% during the forecast period. The direct retail part consists of stores that sell products from vertical farms to their final customers. Retail giants like Walmart, Whole Foods Market, and Ocado are among their members. Several participants, including Dream Green, Square Roots, Plenty, Bowery, Fresh Box Farms, and Growing Underground, have launched their consumer brands to sell products through neighborhood retailers. In 2019, the direct retail segment dominated the vertical farming crops market. The primary goal of commercializing vertical farming was to give consumers the freshest and pesticide-free produce possible. As a result, most locally grown produce is shipped to stores shortly after it is harvested.
Local restaurants, food distributors, and small growers comprise the food service segment. Conscious eating, focusing on regional and local food products, is a more prominent idea. Today's eateries and cafés have a demand for recently harvested food crops. Vertical farming crops can now bring incredible growth to the food service industry thanks to this shift in perspective. Global adoption of the farm-to-table idea has occurred. The way restaurants source fresh produce has undergone a fundamental change thanks to the technological revolution. Urban areas worldwide are seeing an increase in indoor vertical farms, guaranteeing locally produced food with a short growing cycle. Additionally, due to the industry's rapid expansion of participants, produce prices are comparable to organic farms' costs. As a result, it is anticipated that crops grown vertically will become more cost-effective over time and that most neighborhood restaurants will have access to fresh, locally-grown produce.
Based on the farming technique, the global vertical farming crops market is bifurcated into hydroponics, aeroponics, and aquaponics.
The hydroponics segment is the highest contributor to the market and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 25.40% during the forecast period. Hydroponics is a crucial growth technique that allows plants to be developed in a soilless environment (soilless system) by submerging plants in water enriched with all the necessary nutrients for crop growth. Hydroponics is better than gardening, which grows plants in soil because it does not require soil. With this farming method, it is possible to precisely control the number of nutrients given to the plants, which reduces the need for fertilizers. Vegetables grown in greenhouses also have higher levels of vitamins and minerals than those grown in soil.
The aquaculture method known as aquaponics makes use of waste produced by farmed fish or other aquatic animals as a source of nutrient water. In the same space, vertical aquaponics produces almost twice as many plants as a hydroponics system. Due to its soil-free nature, aquaponics has advantages over other farming methods in that it makes virtually no waste and does not require pesticides or fertilizers. The fish in the indoor pond act as fertilizers for the crop because the nutrient-rich waste they produce is fed to the crops grown vertically. In this farming method, the fish tank's wastewater is circulated to the plants, which absorb all the waste nutrients before being cleaned, filtered, and returned to the fish tank.
The global vertical farming crops market is segmented by region into North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and LAMEA.
North America is the most significant revenue contributor and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 25.9% during the forecast period. The United States, Canada, and Mexico make up the continent of North America. Due to governmental initiatives and corporate cooperation, North America has seen a significant increase in investment in the vertical farming sector. In 2019, North America's vertical farming crops market generated the most revenue. The alarming rate of water level depletion, the existence of drought-stricken states, and the rise in environmental concerns are reasons for the market's expansion. There are nearly 821 farms in Chicago, including both sizable indoor farms with vertical farming and small community gardens. The largest company in the sector, AeroFarms, has received over USD 50 million from prestigious investors like Goldman Sachs and Prudential and more than USD 9 million in grants from local and state governments. Nanofarms are the newest trend in the area.
Asia-Pacific is expected to grow at a CAGR of 27.1% during the forecast period. China, India, Japan, Taiwan, and the rest of the Asia-Pacific nations make up the region. The growth of the vertical farming crops market in this region is anticipated to be driven by an increase in disposable income and population. The second-largest area in terms of revenue from crops grown vertically is Asia-Pacific. Around 75% of all vegetables consumed worldwide are by it. The shift in consumer preferences, followed by increased pollution, food scandals, and public distaste, are the main factors fueling the expansion of indoor agriculture and organic food in the area. Some of the world's most giant indoor vertical farms are in this area. Additionally, it is anticipated that quick advancements in lighting and data usage technologies will boost the local economy and enable the expansion of factories. Several countries in the region heavily rely on imports to meet their rising food needs.
Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Sweden, and the rest of Europe are included in the Europe region. Agriculture uses an average of 24% of the water in Europe. The southern zone, where the percentage can reach 80%, is the most concerning situation. The construction of facilities for controlled environment agriculture (CEA) has been the subject of several recent activities in Europe. Many European companies create single-building complexes that incorporate grocery stores and vertical farms. For instance, Berlin-based vertical farm INFARM has set up an indoor farm with stores. Furthermore, due to the anticipated rise in temperature and extreme weather events, there are growing concerns about water availability in some parts of Europe. The best way to address these issues is with vertical farming, which uses 90% less water and yields nearly 70% more than conventional farming. It is anticipated to significantly impact urban food security by enabling year-round production and cutting down on food miles. Additionally, Europe has a lower penetration rate of vertical farming than Asia, the Pacific, and North America.
Brazil, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, and the remainder of LAMEA make up the LAMEA region. The market for crops grown vertically worldwide is least dominant in LAMEA. However, it is anticipated to grow over the forecast period due to increased Latin American demand for HVAC systems. This encourages the use of hydroponics in the agricultural industry, which helps to improve farm productivity and control environmental conditions. Additionally, the region now has a greater need for irrigation systems; LED grow lights, material handling, and other products. The market in LAMEA is anticipated to grow due to rising demand for vertical farming crops like tomato, lettuce and leafy vegetables, pepper, and others.
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