Kubo is a third-generation family company active in the greenhouse industry since 1945. They are also the mind behind the Ultra-Clima semi-closed greenhouse. "This infrastructure allows the growth of high-quality products in any climate in the world," explains Wouter Kuiper, CEO of Kubo. "Essentially, we can design a greenhouse for any global location and are able to combine a suite of technologies, and are an end-to-end service provider."
Wouter continues to explain that they have always betted hard on innovation, following trending topics of horticulture. "We invest heavily in three main aspects: autonomous growing, reducing energy consumption (we have already achieved considerable reduction), and CO2 reduction, without reducing input."
Trends and markets
Being close to the action pays off, and Wouter and Kubo are very much aware of that. It's no wonder that their main markets are the US, Canada, and Western Europe. Though, recently, there has been an addition to those. "We also have an office in China, which is a really promising market because it is currently transitioning from field farming into CEA (controlled environment agriculture)," he points out. At the same time, another promising area is the Middle East, especially with its increase in population and desire to achieve food independence. "We also have a presence in places like Kazakhstan, Japan, and South Korea. Overall, our business entails considerable capital investments, which means that countries need to be economically and politically stable to accommodate it."
However, the location doesn't really matter when growers around the world are dealing with the operating costs of such fancy cultivation structures, especially when it comes to vertical farming. "Energy consumption is indeed a key topic in agriculture, and recent challenges such as the war in Ukraine has accentuated its importance," he observes. "In that regard, we carry a major advantage, as our greenhouses are made of glass and mostly rely on the sun's energy. Photosynthesis requires sun, CO2, and water. When there is less sun, extra lighting can be incorporated, of course. However, it remains the primary energy provider. Regarding vertical farming, in my opinion, it will struggle to reach maturity and is still reliant on large amounts of energy and resources. It has not reached profitability yet, and I do not see it doing so anytime soon. Nevertheless, it could function for the germination stage of agriculture, with a few changes implemented."
Combining environmental sustainability with reduced operational costs is indeed the big dot on the horizon for the CEA industry. "Our objective is to eventually build greenhouses that are energy neutral, CO2 neutral, or that have a negative CO2 consumption. While doing that, we expect to grow as a company to serve the world in achieving its food and sustainability goals and keep carefully expanding to new geographies," he concludes.
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