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Greetings, readers! You’ll find our annual State of the Industry research report for the CEA produce market issue (starting on page 16) inside this issue.

Our annual effort to uncover what’s helping and what’s hampering your operation revealed several interesting developments that occurred over the last 12 months. Here’s a small sample:

For one, I found it incredibly interesting that our survey group basically had no middle – 56% were either among the largest (100,000 sq. ft. under cover or more) or the smallest (from those less than 1,000 to those just under 2,499 sq. ft.) operations in the market. Couple that with the sales volume data – 65% either topped $1 million in annual revenue or secured somewhere between $1 to $9,000 in revenue this growing season – the picture becomes clear: in CEA produce, the big are scaling up and getting bigger, and yet smaller, localized operations are still finding opportunities.

The crops we grow under cover are evolving and shifting from year to year, as well.

Hot peppers – varieties like jalapenos, habaneros and the notoriously mouth-scorching Carolina Reaper (bred by the hilarious and equally brilliant Smokin’ Ed Currie down in the Carolinas – check out his PuckerButt Pepper Company YouTube channel) – have taken their rightful place among herbs, cucumbers, lettuce and tomatoes in the Top 5 most-grown crops under cover. It seems chefs and foodies and everyone else can’t get enough of these spicy, vibrantly colored chili plant hybrids. I must admit a bit of a bias here, as I annually produce a late-summer bounty of container-grown hot peppers for friends, family, co-workers, and even the chef at my local watering hole. It’s kind of my thing.

Conversely, you told us that managing the horticultural supply chain was a bear in 2021. We’re hoping that lessens in 2022 – but the early read we’ve gotten from talking with suppliers, breeders and growers is that unwelcome supply-side tension is probably here to stay.

OK, that’s all from me for now! Head over to page 16 and dig into the data … and if anything draws your eye, drop me a line at MGrassi@GIE.net.

Matthew Grassi, Editor | mgrassi@gie.net | 216-393-0362