“Picture a product that didn’t stay under the sun a second longer, nor suffered from impacts from wind, rain, insects or animals. A product that didn’t need to use pesticides…”
Geraldo Maia is the co-founder and CEO of Pink Farms, graduated in production engineering from the Federal University of São Carlos.
Pink Farms has been operating since 2019 in the West Zone of the city of São Paulo and is the largest urban vertical farming company in Latin America. In November 2022, SLC Agrícola decided to invest directly in the company, through SLC Ventures. Value was not disclosed.
AgriBrasilis – What are vertical farms? How big is the size and growth trend of this market?
Geraldo Maia – Urban vertical farms consist of growing rooms with a 100% isolated and controlled environment, that use hydroponics and LED lamps for food production. In them, it is possible to control temperature, humidity, pH of the water and any other variable that impacts the development of the plants.
The global vertical farm market was valued at US$ 4.51 billion in 2020 and is estimated to reach US$ 19 billion by 2027.
Each vertical farm chooses the technology that suits it, but I believe that they all need to invest in air conditioning, hydro-pumps that pump the water up, pH meters, special LEDs and good isolation from the environment.
AgriBrasilis – What inputs are used and why?
Geraldo Maia – We do not use any pesticides. As for fertilizers, we use macro and micronutrients applied in the water to irrigate the plant through hydroponics.
More details than that would compromise the secret of each vertical farm.
AgriBrasilis – Is the activity competitive?
Geraldo Maia – Yes, the activity is competitive. For example, today our products are already at a lower price point than other ready-to-eat products classified as organic.
Our expectation is that, with the launch of the next farm unit, that should be 15x more productive, we will be able to offer perfect foods at a lower cost than our competitors.
AgriBrasilis – What are the main crops produced? Are there nutritional and quality differences in the final product?
Geraldo Maia – Picture a product that didn’t stay under the sun a second longer, nor suffered from impacts from wind, rain, insects or animals. A product that didn’t need to use pesticides, and that has exactly the amount/intensity of light, water and nutrients you need to express their best version. A product that is born clean, does not need to be sanitized and is packaged inside the farm itself, in a resistant pack, that protects it from impacts and does not interfere with its taste or aroma. That’s why these products are different.
Today, the main crops are lettuce (curly, mimosa and salanova) and carrot, leek, collard greens, radish, red cabbage, coriander and mustard microgreens. In fact, microgreens are considered superfoods and can have 40x more nutrients than vegetables in their “adult” stages.