Ensuring a constant supply of fresh, delicious food to your passengers is a logistical headache for many airlines. Most, outsource this supply task to a separate company, such as LSG. But with high stake demands at play, some carriers are taking matters into their own hands. That’s why the Emirates’ vertical farm is making headlines.
The vertical farming trend
The UAE imports as much as 85% of its food needs. There are a number of reasons for this, water sacristy and a lack of arable land, being the main ones. But food in the region is also a contentious subject. Growing in the UAE requires serious resources. They may have the sunlight, but otherwise, the production footprint is huge.
For this reason, the state has been looking at ‘factory farming’ its fruit and vegetables. While vertical farms have been springing up all over the world, they too need a lot of energy. However, in most countries, the bulk of this energy is used for lighting. This gives the Emirates farm idea a clear advantage. Natural daylight will assist in the day and in addition, stored energy LED’s will be used to create a 24-hour environment for salads and young plants.
Natural daylight will assist in the day and in addition, stored energy LED’s will be used to create a 24-hour environment for salads and young plants
But while this may all sound a little unrealistic, the vertical farm Emirates has planned is already very close to operational. The massive indoor farm is located near the airport in Dubai which offers a growing space the equivalent of 900 acres. This could produce three tons of leafy salad plants a day.
Do Emirates need all their vertical farm food?
While it’s hard to imagine three tons of salad boarding a plane each day, it likely will be eaten as Emirates includes leafy greens on almost every plate. In such an arid region, fresh salad is a mark of quality and affluence. Also, passengers and guests in the airline’s lounges will be the main salad consumers. But a good third of this will make it on-board flights too.
The name behind the Emirates farm, Crop One Holdings, is also keen to experiment with their model. If they can prove their supply credentials to Emirates, it could change Dubai’s import food model. That’s probably why the firm is willing to put up $40 million into the vertical farm Emirates have planned.
In such an arid region, fresh salad is a mark of quality and affluence
News of this bold investment has many investors sitting up to attention. After all, Emirates recently opened up talks to buy South African Airways, the flag carrier of South Africa. The troubled airline has not registered a profit since 2011, and Emirates is keen to expand its reach since fellow Middle East airline Etihad began scaling back operations.
The market is opening up for Emirates in more ways than one and it’s not hard to imagine this new vertical farming Emirates has begun is looking to fulfil future demands.
All in all, the new Emirates vertical farm is good news for the airline, her passengers and the environment. We’re wondering if Sky Chefs will be next in the vertical farming trend.