Hydroponic growth trends for 2017
AmHydro took a look at leading industry research, customer opinion, and their own personal experience to capture what they believe will be specific trends in hydroponic growth we’ll see throughout this year and beyond. Check out their top 3 hydroponic industry growth trends below.
Soil-less farming, indoor farming, vertical farming, hydroponics or C.E.A. (Controlled Environment Agriculture) – however you refer to it, it’s an industry that has seen continuous growth throughout its surprisingly long history. However, the past 2 years have seen explosive growth and acceptance into mainstream agriculture. With a shift towards healthy living from consumers and businesses alike, changing weather patterns, and an increasing acceptance of alternative farming methods, expect this trend to continue into 2017.
1. Hydroponics for good
We are a global society, and the rapid spread of information via social media and on-time news makes us more aware of the issues occurring outside of our little bubbles. Changing climates and weather patterns, mass drought, little-to-no green space in urban areas, and horrible food security in the U.S. as well as in developing nations are serious problems we are all too familiar with.
Hydroponic food production is a method many are looking at to address these issues, specifically with an eye towards innovative ways to increase productivity, sustainability and energy efficiency. Solar power, funding for equitable farming efforts from organizations such as Kiva, urban agriculture education integrated into schools and social programs, and clever customization of system components shows incredible promise for the future.
Already, hydroponic crop production is a lower stress, enhanced productivity and higher yield method of growth. Controlled environments with optimized conditions and less water waste make it an ideal solution for drought-stricken areas. Growing indoors or in a more confined space provide urban ‘food deserts’ with local, fresh and sustainable produce options and a knowledge base for future urban farming efforts. As the industry grows and new techniques are developed, hydroponic farming will be seen as a viable choice for both businesses and addressing issues of social inequity.
2. Buying local, eating local, year-round
Today’s consumers care more than ever about purchasing produce that is grown locally, sustainability and is fresh and full of flavor. A microwaved, frozen meal isn’t the lunch option of choice anymore. NPD group reports that Millennials are driving huge changes in overall eating behaviors in the US. Fresh, less processed food is the norm, and grocery chains and restaurants are increasingly realizing the importance of providing food that meets these characteristics. After all, Millennials are the largest generation in the US workforce, and how many of us go out for an office lunch at least once a week?
Additionally, Millennials are more diverse than older generations, with 44 percent either a minority race or ethnic group. A willingness to experiment with food, try different and more ‘exotic’ varieties of dishes and an emphasis on taste and quality over convenience dictates food choice. This means that food manufacturers and retailers will need to step up and provide vegetables, fruits, and herbs that are grown quickly, consistently, and close by to meet the more sophisticated and health-conscious palates of the new consumer.
In 2017, expect to see a growth in grocery chains and restaurants ranging from fine dining to fast & casual meals looking for ways to source more of their product from local growers, and expect that food to be grown hydroponically.
Hydroponic farming on a commercial scale, from small businesses supplying their local restaurants to a large multi-acre farm supplying a national grocery chain, will be a viable business opportunity for those who are smart enough to embrace it.
3. Cannabis = big business
According to NORML, eight states have legalized marijuana for adult use, establishing regulated marketplaces similar to the restrictions we have on alcohol. Thirty-five states and D.C. have legal medical marijuana programs of some sort, and twenty-one states have removed criminal penalties for certain possession offenses. Increasing acceptance of marijuana use, recreationally and medicinally, and a desire to re-direct the focus of law enforcement’s attention on more serious crimes and stop incarceration and arrests of nonviolent offenders are the main reasons that spurred these legalizations. According to a report by ArcView Market Research, the legal marijuana market was projected to reach 7.1 billion by the end of 2016.
Regardless of your personal stance on marijuana use, it’s obvious that this industry is big business and a business opportunity for many. While still in its infancy, cannabis production is quickly developing standards to meet the stringent needs in order to grow this highly specialized plant.
Similar to trends we see in food production, consumers of marijuana expect the product they put into their body to be produced cleanly, free of pesticides, and in an energy efficient environment. Since regulatory guidelines are different state to state, it’s fairly obvious that it will be grown locally. Growing hydroponically, especially with systems such as our NFT bundles, make it easier to grow a clean product in a clean environment and control the specific nutrient needs for cannabis to grow quality produce, more annual harvests, follow regulation as decided by state (often indoor growth only) as well as meet all the goals of end users.
If you still think federal regulation make this industry too difficult to see continued business growth, maybe this will change your mind. AmeriCann, a company that develops and leases sustainable medical cannabis cultivation properties, plans on starting construction on a 53-acre facility in Massachusetts in March of this year.
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