The joint venture will develop a facility for sustainable production of fresh, nutritious, and safe greens
Emirates Flight Catering (EKFC) and Crop One Holdings have announced a $40 million joint venture agreement to build the world’s largest vertical farming facility in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Crop One Holdings is one of the world’s leading vertical farm operators and EKFC is one of the world’s largest airline catering operators. Together they are set to build a 30,000 square foot controlled environment facility.
Vertical farming produces crops in indoor farms using technology to provide pesticide-free and optimal growing conditions with digital and mechanical, rather than chemical or genetic, plant control.
The facility is said to produce three US tons (6,000 pounds or 2,700 kg) of high-quality, herbicide- and pesticide-free leafy greens. They will be harvested daily, using 99 percent less water than outdoor fields.
Construction for the UAE facility will begin in November 2018 and is expected to be completed in one year. It is being built near Al Maktoum International Airport at Dubai World Central.
His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group said: “Today’s announcement is an important milestone for the Emirates Group, for Dubai, and for the UAE.
“This investment to build and operate the world’s largest vertical farming facility aligns with the UAE’s drive for more agricultural self-sufficiency, a vision which began with the late HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the UAE’s founding father.
“The introduction of ground-breaking technology at the facility also enhances Dubai’s position as a global innovation hub.”
The crucial location of the facility within the UAE will ensure quick deliveries of fresh products within hours of harvest, so to retain the food’s nutritional value and reducing carbon emissions associated with transportation.
First products from the new facility will be delivered to Emirates Flight Catering’s customers, including 105 airlines and 25 airport lounges, in December 2019.
Saeed Mohammed, Chief Executive Officer of Emirates Flight Catering said: “As one of the world’s largest airline catering operations, Emirates Flight Catering constantly looks at innovation, and ways to improve our productivity, product and service quality.
“By investing to build and operate the world’s largest vertical farming facility, we secure our own supply chain of high quality and locally-sourced fresh vegetables, while significantly reducing our environmental footprint.
“We are pleased to partner with Crop One and together we look forward to delivering a best-in-class product and excellent value to our customers and stakeholders.”
It is expected the joint venture will increase Crop One’s leafy green production to a total of 5.3 tons per day by next fall, including the 3 new US farms Crop One is bringing on line by the end of 2018.
Sonia Lo, Chief Executive Officer of Crop One Holdings said: “ Crop One is the leading developer, operator and systems integrator, well beyond the technology experiment phase of most vertical farming.
“We are the only vertical farmer with a proven model at scale, which enables us to produce the highest quality greens at a quarter of the costs of other major vertical farm operators and with 20 to 60 percent higher yields.
“We have invested 4 years building our systems integration and development platform while establishing robust capital optimization. This JV with EKFC also enables us to expand the success of our FreshBox Farm brand internationally for the first time.”