The Chinese adventure for Certhon started in 2011 with cooperation with Rijk Zwaan and a Venly greenhouse project. After that, the turnkey greenhouse solution provider won the bidding procedures for a project on ChongMing Island in Shanghai. Since then the company actively started to explore the market and invest in more promotion in China. Michael Shen joined Certhon China in 2020. He is the Chinese Representative for Certhon in China .
20-hectares project in ChongMing
He shows Certhon's project on ChongMing island, which was started in 2019, finished a year later and commenced operations in 2020. Crops that were selected for production include cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet pepper, and lettuce. It's a 20-hectares semi-closed greenhouse and it's designed to supply the Shanghai urban market. It supplies local food services businesses including hotels and restaurants, as well as high-end retail shops.
Indoor farming solutions & greenhouses
Michael explains Certhon's go-to-market approach in China: "Certhon is specialized in traditional Venlo-style and semi-closed greenhouse. In addition, we focus on indoor farming solutions. In early 2020, the company started a joint venture with DENSO to promote indoor farming and AI farming."
"We are evaluating different regions in China. We think the better solution is to explore high-tech facilities with suitable crops in different regions in China. Some crops prefer more light and some crops don’t. Utilizing high-tech facilities aims to create a better suitable growth environment for crops combined with appropriate energy resources. Fortunately, there has been more and more support from local and regional governments for our industry in these regions. We look for new possibilities, better results, and greater yields"
Energy and energy resources
"Looking at the future, energy and energy resources are key challenges. Before we start new projects, we share our ROI calculations and documents with the potential owners. It's important to understand and display how, after initial investments, after how much time these projects start to generate returns. At the same time, it's important to consult and cooperate with the potential owners to select which crops would be better for cultivation in different regions. For instance, cherry tomatoes and cocktail tomatoes are relatively new products on the market. When grown in the appropriate external and internal environment, because of sufficient light resources and diurnal temperature variation, the flavor will be more intense with higher brix. We can take this information to inform and entice the consumer. We need to find the right crops from the right production areas and with the right technology, and then make sure we take this knowledge to the consumer."
"Key point is that we need to communicate with our customers. Other trends regarding energy use we see in China is that the largest developments are close to electricity plants or other industries, so that residue heating can be used, or lower prices for energy can be negotiated. Horticulture is also a point of interest industry for local governments. Therefore we are building our network, connecting with local government officers, regional agriculture companies and greenhouse companies."
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