A bright future

Departments - Editor’s Letter

August 16, 2022

CEA investments are up, and the world is counting on this industry to provide safe, fresh and local food. No pressure.

It does seem a little daunting how consulting firms and market research companies keep pinning the world’s food solutions on the CEA industry. But it also garners a feeling of immense achievement.

So far, 2022 has been an explosive year for CEA investment and expansion in North America. Please see our cover story on page 14 where we asked CEA experts to share some insights about the robust growth currently happening and expected to take place.

According to a report by L.E.K. Consulting, a few converging trends have contributed to CEA’s growth and success in North America. Some of those include:

  • A challenging labor supply in key growing regions. Immigration reform and minimum wage increases have cut into the labor supply for U.S. farmers, especially in growing-heavy regions such as California.
  • Weather and climate change. Climate change is expected to fuel more unpredictable weather patterns that can be damaging to crops. California, for example, experienced persistent drought from 2011 to 2019, leading to rising water costs.
  • Consumer trends. Consumer preferences are on the rise for produce that is sustainably grown, free of chemicals and locally sourced, and for fruit that is perfectly shaped.
  • Retailers diversifying supply. Retailers are looking to source produce that can be available year-round, looks consistent and is more likely to be free of disease. CEA produce that has these characteristics can command premium pricing.

Lux Research reports global CEA is expected to reach a market value of $100 billion by 2030, while KD Market Insights calculated a value of $172 billion by 2027. KDMI maintains that 55% of the world’s population lives in urban areas — a proportion expected to rise to 68% by 2050 – and that population is demanding locally grown foods. They also note that CEA producers’ proximity to urban centers, the requirement of less time and expense in the transportation of crop products, and better product quality are expected to strengthen the growth of the global CEA market for many years.

Kelli Rodda, editorial director | krodda@gie.net