The global greenhouse industry is growing rapidly, and is expected to continue to do so in the coming year as demand for fresh produce increases and more growers turn to controlled environment agriculture to meet consumer needs. This blog is an overview of the current status of the industry.
According to a report by Mordor Intelligence, the global greenhouse market was valued at USD 23.94 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach USD 43.67 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 9.3% during the forecast period (2021-2026). The report also estimates that the total greenhouse acreage worldwide is approximately 4.9 million acres.
Tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers are among the most commonly grown crops in greenhouses worldwide. Other popular greenhouse crops include lettuce, herbs, strawberries, and flowers such as roses and gerberas. The exact crops grown vary by region, depending on factors such as climate, market demand, and local growing conditions.
The cover materials used in greenhouses vary depending on the needs of the grower and the climate in which the greenhouse is located. Polyethylene film (soft plastic) is the most commonly used cover material. A 2021 study by Rabobank estimates that 92% of global greenhouse acreage is polyethylene. Glass is a traditional and durable option, but it can be expensive and heavy. Polycarbonate is a popular alternative to glass, as it is lightweight and has good insulation properties. Other options include acrylic, ETFE, and fiberglass. The choice of cover material can have a significant impact on the amount of light, heat, and humidity that enters the greenhouse, and can affect the growth and yield of crops.
There are several motivations for using greenhouses instead of traditional open-field agriculture, including:
Greenhouse cultivation and indoor cultivation using artificial lighting are both forms of controlled environment agriculture, but there are some key differences between the two approaches.
Greenhouse cultivation involves growing crops in a covered structure that allows natural sunlight to penetrate while protecting the plants from the elements. The use of natural sunlight means that energy costs for lighting are low, and the environmental conditions inside the greenhouse are generally more stable than outside. However, the amount of sunlight can vary depending on the weather and time of year, and growers may need to supplement natural light with artificial lighting during low-light periods to maintain optimal growth conditions for crops. In addition, greenhouse cultivation is subject to seasonal fluctuations and can be affected by extreme weather events.
Indoor cultivation using artificial lighting involves growing crops in an enclosed environment using artificial light sources such as LED or high-pressure sodium (HPS) lamps. This approach allows growers to control all aspects of the environment, including temperature, humidity, and light intensity, which can lead to consistent yields and high-quality crops. Indoor cultivation is not subject to seasonal fluctuations and can produce crops year-round, which can be a significant advantage for growers. However, the energy costs associated with artificial lighting can be high, and the initial investment in equipment can also be expensive.
Overall, greenhouse cultivation is a more cost-effective and energy-efficient option compared to indoor cultivation using artificial lighting. However, indoor cultivation provides greater control over the environment and can produce crops year-round, making it a viable option for certain crops and growing situations. The choice between the two approaches will depend on factors such as the type of crop being grown, the location of the operation, and the goals of the grower.
The future looks bright for greenhouse agriculture, as demand for fresh produce and sustainable agriculture practices continue to grow. Here are some trends and developments that are shaping the future of greenhouse agriculture:
Climate change is expected to have a significant impact on food production worldwide, and controlled environment agriculture, including greenhouse farming, could play a critical role in ensuring food security in the face of changing climate conditions.
Here are some of the ways that climate change is expected to impact the need for controlled environment food production in greenhouses:
Overall, the impacts of climate change are expected to increase the need for controlled environment food production in greenhouses, as they offer a more reliable and consistent way to produce food in the face of changing climate conditions.
In conclusion, the global greenhouse industry is experiencing rapid growth, with demand for fresh produce driving the industry forward. Greenhouses offer many advantages over traditional outdoor agriculture, including year-round production, a controlled environment, increased yields, improved quality, and efficient use of resources. While greenhouse cultivation and indoor cultivation using artificial lighting are both forms of controlled environment agriculture, the former is generally more cost-effective and energy-efficient. The future of greenhouse agriculture looks bright, with advancements in technology, sustainable practices, vertical farming, and a shift towards local food production shaping the industry. As the world population continues to grow, the greenhouse industry will play a crucial role in meeting the increasing demand for fresh, healthy, and sustainably produced food.
Hunter McDaniel, PhD
Founder & CEO
Hunter earned a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, before joining Los Alamos National Laboratory in the Chemistry Division. Ultimately the value proposition of UbiGro is about boosting crop yields and quality without the cost or energy impact of lighting. Hunter has more than fifty publications and patents, and more than 2000 total citations, h-index: 20. Hunter fundamentally believes that novel materials underpin every significant technology advancement, and he is focused on leveraging new materials to have a lasting and sustainable impact.
Damon Hebert, PhD
Director of Agriculture
Damon brings a wide range of experience in agriculture, materials science, spectroscopy, and small business. During his time in Prof. Angus Rockett’s research group at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), Hebert authored a doctoral thesis and multiple papers on the materials science of CIGS semiconductor materials, which is closely related to the materials developed at UbiQD. He also served as a consultant to Nanosolar, a CIGS nanocrystal solar cell manufacturing company. Hebert has industry experience having co-founded Dr. Jolly’s, a leading cultivation and distribution operation in Bend, OR.
Tania is a UbiGro Sales Representative, with over 7 years of experience in product sales (specifically berries and avocados) covering all of North America and parts of South America. While in agriculture, Tania has cultivated strong relationships with growers and distributors, granting her a unique insight into both perspectives. That understanding, paired with her fierce dedication to results, drives her fun and fiery commitment to her craft. Tania is based in Gilroy, CA.
Tyler brings 15 years of experience in Greenhouse production and facility management of a wide range of crops in multiple states to the UbiGro team. Based in Salinas, California. “Being a fourth-generation farmer, I look to improve and empower the grower, and with UbiGro, we can do just that.”
Jim Gideon is an UbiGro Sales Manager, with over 25 years of greenhouse industry sales experience covering all of North America. Previously Jim has worked for Green Tek, Plazit-Polygal, Texel, Cherry Creek, and Nexus. He is based in Montgomery, AL, and Jim believes that “light is everything to the grower.”
Director of Sales
Eric Moody is UbiQD’s Director of UbiGro Sales. Eric has more than 6 years of experience in horticulture lighting industry, building relationships with greenhouse growers of all sizes and crops on optimal lighting for their growing operation, and most recently managed a North American sales team for PL Light Systems. Overall, Eric has been in sales leadership positions for more than 13 years. Eric brings with him a great understanding of the market and available technologies for growers, greenhouse facilities, and sales leadership. Reach Eric by phone at 541-490-6421 or by email at [email protected].
Mike Burrows, PhD
Dr. Michael Burrows is UbiQd’s Vice President of Business Development. His educational background includes a Materials Science doctorate from the University of Delaware and an MBA from Duke University Fuqua School of Business. His career has specialized in the commercialization of novel electronic materials in venture-run programs for different industries including solar, biosensors, and the automotive industry. In both start-up and corporate environments, he has extensive experience in global market development, foraging supply chain partnerships, productization, and brand building. He is currently leading UbiQD’s partnership efforts in luminescent greenhouse technology, smart windows, and security ventures.
Matt Bergern, PhD
Cheif Product Officer
As Chief Product Officer at UbiQD, Dr. Matt Bergren leads the company’s product development efforts, sales, and product manufacturing, including the company’s first commercial agriculture product, UbiGro. He plays a critical role in continuing the company’s path of technology development and vision of powering product innovations in agriculture, clean energy, and security.
He serves as the principal investigator for UbiQD’s contract with NASA, focused on tailoring the solar spectrum for enhanced crop production for space missions. Dr. Bergren’s leadership experience includes serving on the board of directors for the New Mexico Energy Manufacturing Institute, focused on job creation in New Mexico’s energy, and related manufacturing community.