As a company located in Israel, the biggest challenge for the growers of 2B Fresh are the high temperatures. They grow year round in special greenhouse structure with plastic covers on the top. In the summer months the sides are opened and protected with special insect trip mesh. In the colder winter months the plastic is closing the greenhouse on the sides. Because they do not need additional heating, 2B Fresh is making a good business at the moment in the upcoming market of microgreens.
"We now try to distinguish ourselves on the market by offering the highest quality and by always going for the highest standards regarding nutritional value. That is one of the reasons that we cultivate green sprouts instead of the more common white because we believe that they are more healthy and safe. Green sprouts contain chlorophyll because they see the sun, a healthy advantage," says Avner Shohet from 2BFresh.
Twenty different varieties of Cresses
HydroponicsAfter propagation, the microgeens at 2B Fresh in Israel are harvested within 10-14 days. Also this has a few advantages; the amount of vitamins a microgreen contains are determined when the plant is young. Next to this the growers do not need to fight pests by spraying because the crop is harvested before a pest can enter the plant.
Hydroponic lettuce grown on coir. After harvesting, a new plant is cultivated in the same growing media.
2B Fresh cultivates over 20 varieties of microgreens and (leafy)vegetables; parsley, radish, kale, broccoli etc. A big part of the crops is grown on hydroponics in a greenhouse. Thanks to the greenhouse strategy this the company can harvest many crops out of season. "We harvest a very consistent and clean crop", according to Avner. "Some of the crops are very hard to grow in the summer, but thanks to the NFT system, we can grow even watercress in Israel's warm summer months. We chill the water with advanced techniques and we recreate the ideal climate." Watercress is one of the company's most popular products as its a vegetable with very good functional characteristics against diabetics.
Bok-choi young plants on NFT
2B Fresh is also the only grower of Bok Choi in Israel. They harvest a clean consistent product with big leaves. "We get very good prices for our Bok Choi on the local market, we are the only player on the market with this product", said Avner." Right now, 2B Fresh is not exporting their Bok Choi and Herbs. However, the company is about to present new products for export at the Fruit Logistica in Berlin.
Another crop 2B Fresh grows on hydroponics is kale, in this case on a cocopeat media. "We grow the kale on cocopeat because it has heavy roots, you can not grow that on regular NFT system. This is also the case with the lettuce because our market demands big heads of lettuce with heavy heads, hence we prefer coir. Next to this we prefer to grow it on hydroponics because it is more clean. We also experienced that the Roman lettuce even tastes better when grown on hydroponics. You can eat it without washing, which also keeps the product more fresher in the chain."
Avner Shohet with fresh cut cress.
Market & Export ChangesRight now 2B Fresh grows the most of its produce for the local market, but the company is looking to export. "The Israeli market is simply not big enough anymore. Last year we doubled the production capacity for our microgreens, it is almost unlimited, it is not a problem for us to supply a large demand. We can easily supply a large demand while keeping up the highest quality standards and are equipped with the the most important certificates like Global Gap,” says Uzi Teshuva General Manager of 2BFresh.
The produce from 2B Fresh Israel is packed at their own advanced packing house. All of the produce is packed in a special label package,some of the clients have their own private label. Some of the microgreens are already marketed throughout Europe and the company already has a lot of experience on how to keep the produce fresh in the chain.
All kind of packaging to the customers demand
"It is a real challenge for us to keep microgreens fresh while we transport. We already shipped to the UK, The Netherlands, Poland, Canada and Hong Kong. It is very hard to keep a good shelve life, that's why we ship everything by air. We know that there are already other good players on that market; there are some good growers of Microgreens in the Netherlands and the US, but we try to distinguish our selves by offering something different; convenience. All of our micro greens are ready to eat, the end-user does not need to cut it any more. We do not ship the microgreens with the substrate, simply to reduce shipping costs and disposables; 30 pro-cent of our costs are made by transport. Also the chefs really like the convenience of our packaging: just open it and use it in the dish. Last year we did some good promotions at Makro, which were well received."
Farms all over the worldNext to the operations in Israel, 2B Fresh can also be seen as a group of companies with additional operations and local growers in Mexico, Turkey, Italy, Thailand and China that market their products underneath the 2B Fresh Labels. This is part of a strategy to develop a strong global position. "All of these growers are using the same NFT hydroponics system. Because we are also the manufacturer and reseller of these systems, we can control the entire chain", says a representative of the company. "The moment a grower joins us by buying the techniques, we supply them with the knowledge in the first years they are in production. After that they know how to achieve the best quality. As water usage is an expensive issue, 2B Fresh believes that the NFT system will be the solution for the future as water is getting more scare. "We reduce water spill and emission to the sool, the only water we use i s the actual water the crop consumes, the rest simply recirculates," continues Uzi.
"We see a lot of demand for these hydroponic systems. We are now in the middle developing new greenhouses in China, Indonesia and Canada. For these companies we supply the NFT technologies and local greenhouse builders are responsible for the structures. The world is getting more and more aware of the fact that hydroponics are the future, it is safer, sustainable and acclaimed to be more healthy."
For more information:
TAP Teshuva Agricultural Projects - 2bfresh