Although China started rather late on greenhouse agriculture, the government introduced several policies that support the development of this industry in more recent years. Moreover, the living standards of people are rising, and so is their attention for food safety and demand for high-quality agricultural products. As a result of these conditions, the Chinese greenhouse industry has improved. The spread of industrial-scale production of fruit and vegetables has been an impetus for the greenhouse industry. Haygrove first entered the Chinese market in 2017, and in only a few years, they witnessed a complete turnover of the Chinese soft berry market. Michael Oates, board member of Haygrove China, recently talked about the company's berry greenhouse products, their strengths, and future trends in the industry.
"Our clients can choose greenhouses that suit local conditions"
"In China, our greenhouses are mainly used for the production of blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries. China's most important berry production areas are Yunnan, Anhui, Liaoning, and Shandong, where our services are also concentrated," says Michael. According to him, their plastic greenhouses have several advantages: "Compared to other greenhouses, the plastic greenhouses are quicker to set up and the cost price of source materials is lower. Moreover, the automated operation system guarantees ventilation and warm temperatures. The automated system also keeps the cost price of labor low, all of which means that investors can see a quick return on their investment.
"Haygrove offers various greenhouse systems. We usually help our Chinese clients select the most suitable greenhouse options for the specific weather conditions in their region. For example, in areas with high temperatures, our clients need greenhouses that cool down quickly and can rapidly reduce moisture, but heat preservation is not that important. Our 'easy to ventilate' and 'pioneer' series greenhouses are popular choices in Yunnan. Greenhouse farmers in north China primarily struggle with strong winds, so they are looking for greenhouses that resist those and preserve heat: the monomer greenhouse is the choice for north China."
"The Chinese soft fruit industry is gradually changing from traditional agriculture to high-tech agriculture, and the mindset is changing too. We have helped many berry farmers make that change since we entered China, but China is huge, and every region has unique characteristics. There is not a single solution for all. We have to take into consideration the variation in crops, differences in geography, and custom requirements. We always try to help our clients find suitable products for their specific challenges."
"We are farmers as well as greenhouse suppliers"
China has many greenhouse supply companies. When asked about the advantages of Haygrove greenhouses, Michael replied: "We are the only international greenhouse supplier in the world, with farms that also manufacture greenhouse systems. We have more than thirty years of experience in the berry industry. We combine the viewpoints of farmers and greenhouse suppliers to improve our products, something we can do even better with our blueberry plantation in Xishuangbanna, Yunnan, which covers an area of 54 hectares. That is how we are able to best present our strengths in the global greenhouse market."
"In addition, we devote areas of our farm to experimental production of various berries. We also work closely together with international specialists and regularly receive feedback and suggestions, and our technical team studies, analyzes, and reports. This process is repeated throughout the design and construction of greenhouse systems. We continuously improve our designs, as that is the only way towards sustainable development of greenhouse systems."
"As farmers, we are aware of the need to have the largest added value for the lowest cost price. We have plastic-based greenhouse systems, which are all designed around the 'highest return rate of investment'," explained Michael. "For example, Haygrove supplies the entire greenhouse system for a well-known English strawberry grower who used to produce around 12 tons of strawberries per hectare with traditional farming methods, and roughly 70% of the strawberries were first grade. When the farmer adopted greenhouse technology but kept the original plants, they already reduced the need for pesticides, the overall production volume increased by 15%, and the ratio of first-grade strawberries rose by 14%. For the areas where the farmer paid the most attention, turnover increased by 37%."
"After the initial adoption of greenhouse technology, the farmer implemented additional changes. They replaced soil-based plantation with substrate systems, and as the growing environment for plants changed significantly, the likelihood of inferior fruit greatly reduced, and the strawberry production volume further increased. The use of substrate also allowed them to raise the speed of manual harvesting, which reduced the cost price of manual labor per product," explained Michael. "When the cost price drops and the income grows, the investment quickly pays off. Not only did the product quality of the strawberries improve, but the farmer also saw the profit margin grow."