“It is very difficult to have a stable product quality when transporting fresh herbs. We solved that problem that processing our fresh herbs into essences, which can be stored and handled as a processed product,” says Christian Gerig, founder of Pinkfarm.
Pinkfarm is an indoor farm in St. Gallen, Switzerland that produces natural plant essences in ZipGrow towers. The essences can be simply used to aromatize consumers’ beverages or be used in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries. The company currently offers six natural essences to flavor drinks: rosemary, strawberry, balm, lemongrass, shiso and pak choi.
With the personal care and cosmetic industry in mind, Pinkfarm is also developing exclusive extracts from Edelweiss, arnica and other flowers. Further, the company is working on growing Charapita chilis, which are among the most expensive chilis in the world and is in high demand by the pharmaceutical industry. Pinkfarm is currently perfecting its growing protocols for the exclusive peppers and is selling its small supply to local restaurants.
“For personal care products, conventional products may contain 20 ingredients, of which 15 are there to stabilize the products. If we can sell to consumers directly, we can forget about those 15 ingredients and product customers with a natural, healthy formulation,” says Christian.
From fresh herbs to extracts – why?
Pinkfarm began as a producer of fresh basil for local markets but now grows various plants solely for the production of natural extracts. Why the transition? As Christian explains, the logistics of storing and delivering processed goods were much more favorable and greatly reduced losses related to logistics.
Also, providing the market with fresh basil meant that Pinkfarm always had to make an educated guess about consumer demand, which often resulted in overproduction to make sure that the markets had enough. And with fresh products, overproduction means higher waste and revenue loss.
“All indoor farmers in the EU that are still working with retailers are wasting 30-50% of their output, in my experience. They may have demand for 500 packs on Tuesday, 1500 on Friday, etc.,” says Christian. “With processed products, we have much higher margins and can use all of our fresh herbs. We don’t waste anything.”
Pinkfarm organizes weekly shopping shows from the farm, which can be accessed through the company’s website. You can also book an online appointment with the Pinkfarm team through the website.