Can vertical farms be profitable?

One of the major hurdles with vertical farms is cost of production.

The horticulture professor at North Caorlina State University Ricardo Hernandez discusses the recent buzz surrounding vertical farms and whether these are profitable businesses. 

“There is a lot of technology and utilities associated with producing leafy greens in vertical farms,” Hernandez said. “That cost of production is very high compared to the leafy greens grown on the West Coast even when the shipping costs are added on.

“There actually are some vertical farms making money. Some of those are in boutique markets. These growers are able to get more money for a head of lettuce than the competing product that comes from the field. However, it is going to be difficult for growers who are selling to boutique markets and who receive a premium price for a head of lettuce to break into the mass market. Most consumers are not willing to pay the higher boutique prices.”

Hernandez said in order for vertical farms to acquire a significant share of the market, they are going to have to bring down the price of lettuce so more people will be willing to pay for the product.

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