chain and are already looking to offer newer products like peppers, lettuce and strawberries. 20 21 As example, Mastronardi, an established producer of greenhouse tomatoes, is developing its own strawberries. Furthermore, increasing collaboration between traditional greenhouses and specialist greenhouses is already happening to improve technology. Examples include the recent joint venture of Nature Sweet and Ganfer 22 and the loan from Mastronardi to AppHarvest. Finally, incumbent greenhouses have already proven their mettle by taking greenhouse tomatoes from a niche in the 1990s to making up nearly 40% of the fresh tomato market in 2021. 23 Limitation of product variety An analysis of the product offering from major CEA start-ups indicates that lettuce, variants of leafy greens and herbs are the primary crop focus. Start-ups are still defining the value proposition based on crop physiology and operational economics of the farm. This limits their ability to compete with traditional growers who can operate with flexibility by moving acreage or growing multiple crops to deal with challenges that come their way. Given the limited market penetration, product catalog and competition in the market, CEA start-ups risk being limited to a niche segment of the market. Despite investor enthusiasm and strong market driving trends, there are key challenges that could prevent CEA start-ups from being able to scale up to become

major players. The key among those is the path to profitability and understanding the magnitude of cost gap between them and conventional growers. The potential of CEA and its perceived challenges is further backed up by an interview with Dr. Lynn Hamilton, Professor of Agribusiness at Cal Poly, as illustrated below: “CEA is an interesting concept with the potential to develop unique flavor profiles through genetics and light control, while being completely pesticide- free. There is still concern regarding how CEA players can price the advantages they bring to fresh produce. With limited production capacity and select product offering, CEA farms still need to establish themselves as a reliable supplier in the food value chain ecosystem. Rather than competing directly with outdoor-grown produce on retail shelves, CEA produce might have an easier channel to market with food service providers such as Hello Fresh or local restaurants which are able to charge a premium to end-customers. The possibility to reintroduce agriculture back into the urban core is exciting, but it needs to be economically viable.” – Dr. Lynn Hamilton, Ph.D., Professor of Agribusiness at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo

20 Produce | 21 Sunset produce to be grown in Colorado solar-powered greenhouse |, September 2021 22 Naturesweet adds joint venture to support rapid growth |, October 2021 23 Greenhouse tomatoes change the dynamics of the North American fresh tomato industry | USDA, 2005

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