🇳🇱 Main Takeaways From GreenTech

Last week, I had the occasion to be present at GreenTech, the largest horticultural expo in the world.

Good morning, dear readers!

Last week, I attended GreenTech Amsterdam, an important event for the horticulture and controlled environment agriculture industry.

After a few days, I gathered my thoughts after talking to several attendees and exhibitors who highlighted key points about the industry's current situation and future prospects.

From a resurgence of excitement and collaboration to regional market focuses and financial concerns, the event showcased a dynamic landscape full of potential.

However, it also underscored the need to navigate external factors that could impact future growth.

Excitement Is Back

Image courtesy of GreenTech

The three days marked a resurgence of excitement and enthusiasm among attendees, signaling a potential pivot to the downturn we’ve experienced over the last few months/years (Yet to be confirmed over the next few months). The overall atmosphere at the show was positive, reflecting renewed energy and optimism among stakeholders.

One of the most notable aspects of this year's GreenTech was the eagerness of participants to engage in meaningful conversations and network with like-minded professionals. The event provided a fertile ground for exchanging ideas, with attendees looking forward to discussing the latest advancements and trends in the sector.

A big shout-out should be given to the organizers and to the FarmTech Society for arranging thought-provoking panels around various facets of the industry, such as Seed Breeding, How Space Tech Can Change Food Production, Going Mainstream, or Diversity in CEA (To name a few).

The positive atmosphere was not just a fleeting sentiment but was backed by tangible prospects shared by exhibitors. Many new potential projects were highlighted, showcasing the industry's innovative spirit. These projects, anticipated to unfold over the next 12 months, promise to bring significant advancements and collaborations.

A Hub For Innovation & Collaboration

Before the excitement of GreenTech, I had the opportunity to visit two sites that underscore the Netherlands' position as a hub for horticultural innovation: Artechno’s Demo Center and Tomato World.

Tomato World: Showcasing Horticultural Excellence

Tomato World, located in Westland, is an information and education center that exemplifies the immense value of the Dutch greenhouse horticulture sector. Founded in 2008 by innovative and committed partners, Tomato World aims to demonstrate the sector’s significant contributions to addressing global food challenges. This center brings together over 30 leading companies in the horticulture industry, highlighting the collaborative spirit and technological prowess that define Dutch horticulture.

Hoogendoorn Growth Management and LetsGrow.com invited us to explore Tomato World. The center is a testament to the pride and commitment of its founding companies, such as Greenco, known for Tommie’s tomatoes, and The Greenery. These companies and other partners emphasize the sector's vitality and sustainability, showcasing its leading position in the global market.

Artechno’s Demo Center: A Glimpse into the Future of Vertical Farming

The visit to Artechno’s Demo Center was equally enlightening. The center held an open day before GreenTech, attracting over 100 visitors eager to see the company's vertical farming systems. The guided tour provided a comprehensive look at various solutions offered by Artechno, including their Junior cells and larger cells, as well as potential integrations with greenhouses, which was exemplified by their recent project in China in partnership with HX Agricultural, Meteor Systems, Food Ventures & other leading companies in this space.

Desire To Collaborate

Synergies and Complementary Solutions

An important aspect of the event was the willingness of solution providers to explore ways in which their technologies and expertise could complement each other. This interest in synergy was not just about combining products and services but about integrating strengths to develop comprehensive solutions that address complex challenges in the horticultural sector. Discussions and networking sessions included exchanges of ideas and identification of potential partnerships.

Advancing the Industry Through Collaboration

The goal of these collaborations is potentially to drive the industry forward. Stakeholders share an understanding that advancing horticultural technology may require a unified effort. Solution providers aim to accelerate innovation and bring more effective and sustainable solutions by pooling resources, knowledge, and expertise.

Teamwork for Global Impact

The sense of teamwork at GreenTech was evident. Attendees acknowledged that the challenges faced by the global horticultural industry—such as sustainability, efficiency, and food security—may not be tackled in isolation. Collaborative efforts are seen as essential to developing scalable solutions that can have a meaningful impact on a global scale.

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Big Focus On North American Projects

Discussions highlighted the regional focus of many companies within the industry. Several trends emerged, indicating where companies are directing their efforts and investments.

North America: A Major Target Market

North America continues to be a significant focus for many companies. The region's large market size and advanced infrastructure make it an attractive target for new technologies and solutions. Despite various challenges, North America’s demand for innovative horticultural solutions remains robust, driving companies to prioritize this market.

Europe: Facing Challenges

While Europe has traditionally been a strong market for horticultural technology, it currently faces several challenges. These challenges are prompting companies to look beyond the continent for growth opportunities. Issues such as regulatory complexities, market saturation, and economic factors are influencing this shift.

Middle East and Southeast Asia: Emerging Markets

The Middle East and Southeast Asia have jointly become many companies' second-largest focus areas. These regions present significant growth potential due to increasing demand for advanced agricultural technologies and the need to address food security challenges. Companies are keen on exploring opportunities in these emerging markets to expand their global footprint.

Latin America: Growing Interest

Latin America is also experiencing growth and gaining attention from GreenTech companies. The region’s agricultural sector is evolving, with a rising interest in adopting new technologies to improve productivity and sustainability. This growing interest makes Latin America an important area of focus for industry players looking to diversify their market presence.

Money Remains A Bottleneck

Despite being satisfied with the volume of upcoming projects, many companies struggled to secure the necessary financial backing to proceed.

Challenges in Securing New Investors

Attendees noted that while there is no shortage of innovative projects and potential opportunities, the difficulty lies in attracting new investors. The current economic environment, marked by cautious investor sentiment, has made it challenging for companies to secure the funding required to support their customers' projects. This funding gap poses a significant obstacle to the timely implementation and scaling of new technologies and solutions.

Optimism About Interest Rate Cuts

Despite these challenges, companies are prevailingly optimistic. Some are hopeful that anticipated interest rate cuts will improve the financial landscape. Lower interest rates are expected to make loans more affordable and accessible for customers, easing the industry's current funding constraints.

Improved Access to Loans

The expectation is that as interest rates decline, more customers will be able to take on loans, which will, in turn, facilitate the funding of their projects. This increased accessibility to financial resources is a crucial factor in enabling companies to support their customers and bring their innovative solutions to market.

Fear Of Externalities

Amid the optimism at the event, concerns about certain externalities could hinder the growth witnessed over the past few months. These concerns primarily revolve around geopolitical factors, interest rates, and persistent inflation.

Geopolitical Factors: Elections in the US and Europe

One significant concern is the potential impact of upcoming US and European elections. Geopolitical stability plays a crucial role in economic growth and investor confidence. The uncertainty surrounding these elections could influence policy decisions, regulatory environments, and overall market stability, which could affect the industry.

Interest Rate Cuts: Potential Price Increases

While many are hopeful that interest rate cuts will improve access to funding, there are fears that such cuts could increase prices. This concern arises from the current imbalance between supply and demand; while demand is expected to rise with more accessible loans, the supply of products has not yet increased to meet this demand. Consequently, some fear that cutting interest rates could exacerbate inflationary pressures rather than alleviating them.

Persistent Inflation

Despite several months of interest rate hikes, inflation remains a sticky issue in most areas. The persistent nature of inflation is a concern for the sector, as it affects the cost of goods, services, and raw materials. Continued inflation could strain budgets and impact the financial viability of new projects, making it a critical factor to watch.

Navigating Potential Challenges

These externalities pose potential risks to the sector's continued growth. Companies closely monitor these factors, recognizing that geopolitical developments, interest rate policies, and inflation trends could all influence their operational and strategic decisions. The industry aims to navigate these challenges and sustain its growth trajectory by staying informed and adaptive.



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