Vertical farming brings food to the cities

Consumer demand


Vertical farm Oct12.pngCurrent farming techniques haven’t changed much over thousands of years. Yet the people who eat the food that comes from farms no longer live next door to them. So the food has to be transported ever-greater distances – sometimes thousands of kilometres – to reach the market.

A new business model is badly needed to overcome the environmental and cost issues caused by the current model. One such model is vertical farming, which, as the Wall Street Journal notes:

“Is based on one simple principle: Instead of trucking food from farms into cities, grow it as close to home as possible – in urban greenhouses that stretch upward instead of sprawling outward….The immediate benefits will be easy to see. There won’t be as many delivery trucks guzzling fuel and belching out exhaust, and city dwellers will get easier access to fresh, healthy food.”

Early development of the concept has taken place over the past decade in the USA, where a variety of different buildings (including a former meat-packing facility in Chicago) are now in use. It is also now spreading world-wide.

One of the most advanced versions is in Sweden, where farmers are experimenting with a 12-storey farm in Linkoping, as shown in the chart:

• It will plant out on the ground floor, and then move the plants during their growing cycle from the top to the bottom floor for harvesting
Plantagon, the company behind the project, also plans to lease out office space in the building, to help increase profitability

Of course, it is still early days for the concept, and its economics are not yet close to those of conventional farming.

But as we describe in Chapter 11 of Boom, Gloom and the New Normal, companies such as Bayer MaterialScience have already developed EcoBuilding projects as part of their climate protection strategy. Adding an agricultural element to such activities may well make good sense for the future.


China's auto sales remain in the slow lane


Mark Twain, the famous US writer, put it well when he warned that: “It isn...

Learn more

Budgeting for an L-shaped recovery


As companies finalise Budgets for 2013-15, many will be thinking long and hard a...

Learn more
More posts
Plastics producers face a ‘wake-up call’ from both ends of the value chain

Plastics producers have had a great run over the past 60 years, as demand took off for their product...

Smartphone sales confirm mid-market of ‘affordable luxury’ is disappearing

Another 3 months, another decline in global smartphone sales. And more pressure on mid-market player...

Welcome to the New Normal – a look ahead to 2030

10 years ago, I took a look ahead at what we could expect in the next decade, as discussed last week...

If you don’t want to know the future, look away now

Next week, I will publish my annual Budget Outlook, covering the 2021-2023 period. It will highlight...

The Top 5 pandemic paradigm shifts

The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the fundamental changes which were already underway in global ...

Hertz goes bankrupt as non-essential consumer demand disappears

The US Federal Reserve has now spent $7tn bailing out Wall Street. But it couldn’t save the 10...

Smartphone sales head into decline as affordability becomes key

The smartphone sales decline accelerated in Q1, as Strategy Analytics report: “Global smartpho...

China’s plastic ban and recycling launch marks end of ‘business as usual’ for plastics industry

Paradigm shifts start slowly at first, and it is easy to miss them. But then one day, they suddenly ...


Market Intelligence

ICIS provides market intelligence that help businesses in the energy, petrochemical and fertilizer industries.

Learn more


Across the globe, ICIS consultants provide detailed analysis and forecasting for the petrochemical, energy and fertilizer markets.

Learn more

Specialist Services

Find out more about how our specialist consulting services, events, conferences and training courses can help your teams.

Learn more

ICIS Insight

From our news service to our thought-leadership content, ICIS experts bring you the latest news and insight, when you need it.

Learn more