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Grønt Fra Nord opens new farm in Fauske

Norway: Maintaining import prices ‘to stay relevant’

"We are delighted to open the doors of our newly built factory in Fauske, equipped with tailored technology, this facility has a vast capacity to produce a wide range of lettuces and microgreens," says Marius Johansen, Founder of Grønt Fra Nord (GFN). Formerly on our radars as Grønt Fra Laks, the Nordic vertical farming company now goes by the name Grønt Fra Nord, insinuating their expanded reach in the North.

Marius Johansen

Fluctuating prices: Why not use fixed contracts?
"We're still following import prices to match with, so that's the way to go forward. However, it's at an all-time high given the climate and electric costs. Since November last year, the cost of a head of lettuce has increased by 50 cents. We make 2 euros per head of lettuce, whereas two years ago it would be between 1 to 1,15 euros," Marius highlights.

Would it not make sense to lock in fixed contracts then? "See, the risk that fixed contracts bring is that with these current fluctuations," Marius explains. "Everything is based on the current external trends such as war, supply and demand of open field produce and so forth. So very optimistically put, if that all ends, it wouldn't make sense to set prices that aren't suiting anymore to the environment we're producing in as costs will decrease."

Elaborating, Marius highlights that the Norwegian retail market is dominated by three multinationals that have a fixed retail budget based on curves they always have followed, and will be following in the coming years. Thus, these will be used as a leading example. However, if prices continue to increase, we might put that on the table."

The new farm from the front

Retail presence
With production well underway, salads and leafy greens are reaching restaurants, HoReCa and consumer plates across the region. Thanks to the partnership with wholesalers such as Bama Storkjøkken in Bodø, and retail chains such as Coop Nordland, Bunnpris stores in Mosjøen, Mo i Rana, Fauske, and Bodø, "the response from the local community has been overwhelming," Marius shares.

"Consumers from Nordland have expressed so much enthusiasm for our products, which has led to more frequent restocking in stores than anticipated. As part of our expansion, we are in an explosive scaling phase, and are welcoming more stores into our distribution network every day."

Salads in-store

Installation hiccups
Unfortunately, the farm opening was held a bit later than anticipated due to some technical obstacles. Luckily, Marius and his team found reliable manufacturers in Norway to fine-tune and customize solutions that perfectly suited GFN's needs at that moment. "Despite some issues with the cabling and the regulations around it, luckily we've been able to remedy that. There was no time to slow down production as we were determined to meet volumes set with off-takers."

As optimistic as he is, the founder shares that this 'hurdle' has brought a benefit to GFN. "As we basically had to re-do the entire farm, through custom-built racks we added germination and propagation areas, maximizing every inch of the facility and allowing for an increase in production. At full capacity, we can harvest 10,000 heads of lettuce per day. Though, now it's about 3000 per day, expanding with customers and allowing a steady roll-out with us."

So can Marius, can we expect to see more farms very soon in the Northern Hemisphere? Laughingly, Marius shares that he's glad things are finally stable and production is looking good. However, "in the long run, I would love to expand the Fauske facility as there's much more capacity we can meet at this point. Adding different strings as well such as arugula and other leafy greens like berries.

For more information:
Grønt Fra Nord
Marius Johansen, Managing Director
+47 900 20 797
[email protected]