Global Market of Next-Generation Plant Factories: Key Research Findings 2018
Yano Research Institute (the President, Takashi Mizukoshi) has conducted a survey on the global highly functional, high-value-added next-generation plant factory market, and has found out the trends of highly functional/high-value-added plants (i.e., genetically modified plants, medicinal plants, and functional vegetables,) the trends of leading companies and study institutions, and the future outlook based on the global market.
Plant factories can condense or increase functional elements within the plants, because they can manipulate the growth of the plants by controlling the cultivation environment. In addition, by optimizing such an environment, the factories are able to suppress unevenness of quantity and quality of functional components within the plants in order for the plants to be in good quality and be supplied stably throughout the year.
On the other hand, generally speaking, plant factories require large sum of money for initial and running costs for operation. Therefore, the production cost of, say, general lettuces, can be pricy, unable to compete with those produced outdoor, unless such plant factories are super-large. In such a status, increasing number of mid-size or small plant factories have started adding values to the plants they grow by planting genetically modified plants, medicinal plants, and functional vegetables in order to improve profitability.Next-generation plant factories in this research indicate those plant factories that produce highly functional and high-value-added plants such as genetically modified plants, medicinal plants and functional vegetables, unlike the conventional plant factories that produce general leaf vegetables. Also, this research has targeted the plant factories that use only artificial lights for the light sources and those that use both sunlight and artificial lights (mainly using sunlight within the factories and supplementary use artificial lights). The market size is based on the shipment value of highly functional and high-value-added plants produced at such plant factories. (With regard to genetically modified plants, the market size has been calculated based on the shipment value of useful materials having been commercialized as the applicable products and not the plants themselves.)
Vigorous efforts have been made to produce highly functional and high-value-added plants such as genetically modified plants, medicinal plants and functional vegetables at plant factories in Japan and around the world. Among them, functional vegetables have gradually expanded the sales as a part of fresh vegetables and health supplements which are expected to improve and prevent lifestyle diseases by eating them.
On the other hand, genetically modified plants and medicinal plants have yet many challenges to solve, such as to build cultivation techniques, develop sales channels, and suppress production costs, although they have a huge influence when they are truly commercialized and high potential demands. Speedy solution of the current challenges is regarded to be significant to expand the market for the future.
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