Since our last chat with Ivan, he has broken the news on their newest farm in Bali. Founder Helen Hobson and Ivan Valor have been running the business ever since. As Helen has lived in Bali for over six years now, she's been able to help massively deal with local challenges Ivan gives away.
However, the couple hasn't been idle. Ivan explains, "Since closing our pre-seed investment of $100,000 in March this year, our sales are up by 600%. Every month we're seeing sales doubling, just because there's an unfulfilled demand here in Bali." At one point in July, the company increased its prices by 20% to bring demand more in line with supply and to compensate for higher input prices across the board. However, that didn't stop customers from ordering their produce.
Ivan adds, "One of our main investors asked about our competitors. Though, I despise that word because all we do is benefit from each others' works. I answered that we don't have any because the Indonesian market is way too big to ever get fulfilled by vertical farms."
Helen Hobson and Ivan Valor
Our colleague Priscilla Heeffer, Account manager at Hortidaily.com, has paid a visit to Greens Bali while being on vacation with her family. Ivan and Helen welcomed them by showing them around the farm, showing the produce and eventually, giving them a proper tasting.
Priscilla Heeffer with Hortidaily scooped in for a photo
New 7000m2 farm in Jakarta
In the near future, Ivan gladly shares that there's an upcoming project in Jakarta, Indonesia, for a 7000m2 farm. It will be built in stages to allow the company to expand progressively. "A mega farm in Jakarta will solve a small part of agriculture there. As the incomes and healthy lifestyles are increasing, it makes perfect sense to build our next farm there. After that, we'll focus on Southeast Asia."
Ivan affirms that Jakarta has an area population of 30 million people. The constant growth of demand for organic and high-quality greens is far bigger than the actual offers there. This means that there are some great market opportunities for Greens Bali ahead. The new farm will offer up to 30 varieties of micro- and baby greens. The only challenge Ivan is seeing now is logistics: getting the greens in time to all of their customers.
Product range and availability
The current cultivation space is 150m2 of the 1000m2 facility. While the rest will be dedicated to strawberries that will be grown year-round on the favored island. As well as R&D and office space. "It's total craziness that we have to expand our growth area every two months to keep up with the demand."
Recently, baby arugula and baby kale have been added to the veggie family, given the growing demand for the products. Besides that, Greens Bali has been selling organic plant pots to restaurants, allowing chefs to harvest their produce at any time.
"Our greens can now be found in 23 supermarkets, 98 restaurants, and 27 hotels. It's so great to feel the local support as we're adding 20 to 30 new customers every month. Our ultimate goal is to improve the quality of the greens consumed while reducing the resources needed. And, we're getting there," Ivan notes.
Ivan explaining every bit of the farm
Hard to find workers
However, bit by bit, new growing racks are added to the facility as demand is constantly growing. At this point, the farm is run by the pair, plus three new salespeople that are well aware of the Indonesian mentality and culture, to better understand the local needs. Given that Helen and Ivan were quite unfamiliar with vertical farming themselves and self-taught everything, it's very hard to find trained staff for vertical farms.
Helen points out that the company pays 30% more than what you'd normally get paid in agriculture domestically. "It keeps them passionate and eager to learn about vertical farming. So there are definitely some good opportunities. Though, we're always looking to add more people to the team."
No doubt they've enjoyed their visit :)
Luckily, there are no delays in the construction development. However, there have been some complicacies in energy laws. Ivan explains that Indonesia has changed the regulations on renewables. This brings some risk as it might be that farms can no longer be run on solar energy entirely. However, the solar panel installation of the farm has been approved by the PLN (the State grid operator) and will be on in the next few days.
With sustainability at the top of the agenda, Greens Bali is in the works of getting a 100% organic certificate going as they're growing rapidly. By obtaining the certificate, the company could charge a premium price for their products, given the many benefits we all know. The only hurdle Ivan and Helen have been facing recently is the increasing logistic prices that affect their seed imports. Hopefully, these will fade out eventually.