Vertical farming is an emerging, innovative, and developing industry – with a lot of global growth.
Vertical farming is a method of growing crops indoors in vertically stacked layers, set in buildings such as factories, skyscrapers, old mines, and even repurposed shipping containers. Products typically grown and produced include leafy greens, micro greens, and herbs. Controlled environment agriculture (CEA) technology is used to precisely control all aspects and conditions of the indoor environment including artificial lighting, humidity, temperature, irrigation, and nutrients. A combination of other key technologies are also used, and include big data analytics and artificial intelligence, robots, the Internet of things, sensors, cameras and other components.
Vertical farming’s benefits are driving interest in this market. It offers a climate-controlled environment with optimal growing conditions and year-round crop production, thereby yielding more crops. It also uses less space, water, and pesticides, is more sustainable, environmentally friendly, and can help improve food security for vulnerable and remote communities. The result is more products that are locally grown, are fresher, and more nutritious.
Vertical farming uses three growing techniques – hydroponics, aeroponics, and aquaponics. All are soilless systems and although hydroponics is the most common used, it’s reported that aeroponics is the fastest growing method in the Canadian market.
The 2021 global market was valued at USD $4.34 billion, and is expected to reach USD $5.37 billion by the end of this year. The market is predicted to reach USD $33 billion by 2030, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25.5% between 2022 and 2030. The Canadian vertical farming industry is also on the rise, and is expected to grow considerably. Its 2020 market size was USD $438.5 million and reached USD $553.9 million in 2021 – a noticeable upward trend, with a forecasted CAGR of 28.1% predicted from 2022 to 2027.
Roughly 12 commercial vertical farms now operate in Canada, with plans to either expand existing operations or open new ones. Interest in vertical farming is growing among consumers, as well as national, regional and local food retailers. GoodLeaf Farms, backed with a large investment from McCain Foods Ltd., is building two more plants, giving them a national network of vertical farms to serve the grocery and food service industries across Canada; the Alberta government has provided a CAD $2.73 million incentive to locate one of those plants to Calgary.
Vertical Farming is on the rise in Canada, giving foreign product, service, and technology providers opportunities in the Canadian market.