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Peter Quiring, NatureFresh™ Farms:

“Our goal is to be building 200 to 300 acre farms”

The market is not there yet, but according to Peter Quiring, CEO with NatureFresh™ Farms, the greenhouse industry needs to be building 200 or even 300 acre farms very soon - and growing one crop in those farms. “In the end, it comes down to price. Large scale investments are the answer to this.”

Peter Quiring took part in the panel discussion on the future of the greenhouse industry during the Indoor AgTech in New York that took place last week. “A long time ago a 3-acre farm was big, then an 18-acre expansion was big and then 32 acres is big”, he said, referring to their most recent Leamington expansion that will bring the total acreage of the family-owned company up to over 200 acres. Peter believes the end of upscaling in protected horticulture is not yet in sight.


NatureFresh™ Farms has recently expanded their organic acreage in Canada  

Growing for the market
“The fact is that we need to find more ways, new ways of growing food that people can afford. We need to innovate to answer challenges in the market. Inconsistent supply is an issue, as is yield prediction. Labour is our number one cost by far and our number one problem as well - not the individuals but getting them. Then there are matters like yield and flavour. The fact that two growers are cultivating the same variety doesn’t mean their product will taste the same - and when flavour is up almost all the time the yield of produce goes down.”

Upscaling
With NatureFresh™ Farms, the Research Team is non-stop working on getting more flavour in the produce. This can be done thanks to the size and viability of the company - and the same goes for investing in research and innovations. “Large scale investments are the answer when having to combine all challenges in the market”, Peter says. “We talk about quality and market demand, but in the end sometimes it comes down to price. That’s when occasionally you lose your audience, price is key for many players in the produce market. Upscaling to larger, one crop greenhouses is one way to drive the costs down.”


Peter Quiring on the Indoor AgTech show

Influence of chains
So who is to buy all the product coming from these major farms? “Learning now that some fast food restaurants are now starting to source their veggies from greenhouses, I believe the demand will eventually be here from more chains", Peter says. “That’s why, when looking at the incredible amount of investment required to do this, retailers and food service suppliers are going to need to pick their partners and work closely with them. Upscaling and lowering the cost price is of vital importance for innovating,” Peter explains. “Driving down the costs is key, but not at the expense of innovation, quality or flavour.”

Indeed: according to Peter creating a market is what it will be about. “I’ve never started a business just to make money. We started businesses to provide a product or a service. After two or three years you’ll find out if you have a business model, depending on if the consumer keeps coming back to the service you are providing them.”

For more information:
NatureFresh Farms
www.naturefresh.ca


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