In our Summer 2020 Newsletter, written while much of the world was still under some kind of lockdown or restricted movement, just months after the world first heard of COVID-19, we provided a thorough update on how the first half of 2020 had impacted the indoor vertical farming industry.
Much of the news in the early part of the summer centered on the shocking gaps in the food supply chain, something most people rarely, if ever, gave any thought to before this year. But those empty grocery store shelves had people everywhere sitting up and taking note of how far away the food they depended on was actually produced. Supporting that idea, the researchers at Barclays Capital said,
Following the COVID-19 pandemic, we would not be surprised to see vertical farms explored as a hedge against fresh food supply shortages.
Now, months later, industry experts have new insights into the changes 2020 is having on consumers, as well as specifically on the indoor vertical farming industry.
Perhaps the most obvious trend is the way we shop.
Even after lockdown restrictions lifted, consumers continue to shop differently. Sales of healthy products, including items in the fresh produce aisles, are on the rise. Packaged produce, like what is sold from indoor farms, is increasingly enticing to consumers who remain worried about how many people have touched their food.
A recent survey from Kearney Management Consultants asked participants whether their opinions about healthy and sustainable products had changed as a result of COVID-19. The survey found that 48% of people said the pandemic made them more concerned about the environment, 55% were more likely to buy an environmentally friendly product, and a whopping 78% of consumers “now believe that companies could be doing more to help them make decisions that improve environmental outcomes.”
These findings tell us that consumers see a direct link between their own personal health and the health of the planet. This link is something we at Urban Health Farms have long taken seriously, and is a cornerstone of our own vision.
That growing trend to seek healthy and sustainable products has given companies like Urban Health Farms an unexpected boost. Celine Grena, director of Nielsen Bases Europe says,
The lockdown has had an impact on consumers. The bans on travel and entertainment away from home, in addition to the stress of the pandemic, created the perfect scenario for trying new products, as novelties have been one of the few things available to treat yourself.
Of course, not everyone has access to such an abundance of fresh produce. According to the United Nations, the world is on the brink of its worst food crisis in 50 years. Leaders and governments have been increasingly backing the indoor vertical farming industry, insisting that adapting and streamlining traditional agriculture isn’t enough. Accessing enough fresh fruit and vegetables utilising technology, like hydroponics and vertical farming, can maximise output, while minimising the degradation of land, water and soil.
Indoor vertical farming presents an opportunity to make steps towards a circular economy, maximising sustainability and creating economic opportunities for cities. If you’re interested in learning more about investing in Urban Health Farms, or becoming a strategic partner in our sustainability efforts, get in touch today.