The Dutch company FoodVentures and their partner Evergrande invest millions to grow vegetables on a large scale for the local market in China. The corona crisis is fueling the demand for fresh, healthy and safe food there.
The images of the building of 17.5 hectares of hightech greenhouse in 'an hour away from Shanghai', are popping into the e-mail boxes of the team at the Dutch FoodVentures offices. With the realisation of this project, the step towards China is a fact for the Dutch glass greenhouse consortium, which is already active in Ukraine, Georgia and Kazakhstan.
The building site from above
Owner of the greenhouse will be Evergrande, a Chinese real estate company with which FoodVentures signed a contract, a millions contract. Together with them, FoodVentures wants to grow to 100 hectares in 5 years. Per greenhouse, about 50 million euros is needed, from which the Chinese real estate company will provide the biggest share. "You could call it a 'hotel model', because much like hotel chains rarely own the property, we don't own the greenhouses in China", says Eric van der Meer with FoodVentures
"We do get, like in our earlier projects, the full freedom to establish and run the operation. The cooperation with Evergrande ensures us a quick growth, with less of our own capital."
Active cooling and hybrid lighting
The first steps have been taken, with a delay of about a month due to corona, estimates Eric based on plans, photo's and drone footage he receives in the Netherlands. "It's once again an Ultra-Clima greenhouse with active cooling and hybrid lighting, but what exactly, that is yet to be decided, like the rest of the greenhouse interior."
Local and food safely
In the greenhouse, tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce will be grown for the local market. "We are going to do the sales and marketing for these products ourselves. For that we're now in discussion with the large Chinese supermarket chains like Hema from Alibaba. We want to deliver grade A quality vegetables, with excellent food safety, consistently and yearround. There's certainly interest for that."
Eric last november at the Global Tomato Congress in Rotterdam where he was able to share a little, but not everything about the China project.
Before the step to China, FoodVentures did their research for that. "A latent demand for food safe produce was always there in China, more than for instance in the Netherlands where food safety is 'normal'. And due to corona the importance only strengthens. The sounds from the market are positive, too."
Harvest in spring 2021
And yet, it's not exactly clear what it's going to look like in China. "We did our homework, but I can't give you any details for another year", concludes Eric, who shares that the greenhouse will be finished at the earliest in December this year, so the first harvest won't be before March or April of next year.