Fri-El Green House

This interview details Fri-El Green House, an indoor farming company based in Italy. The interview is with Michael Zagler, Export Sales Manager at Fri-El Green House.

Source: Fri-El Green House

What is the origin story of Fri-El Green House?

Our company was born out of the idea of ​​using the process heat from our biogas plants in a meaningful way. At the beginning of 2015, we founded the company Fri-El Green House with the purpose of producing agricultural products in greenhouses using a hydroponic cultivation system. We now produce vine tomatoes and cucumbers on an area of ​​30 hectares, which is equivalent to around 42 football fields.

Source: Fri-El Green House

What are some of the biggest challenges facing Fri-El Green House in the future?

By far the biggest challenge is achieving CO2-free production, so far, we are using some renewable energy from biogas plants and from a photovoltaic system that was installed on the roof of our warehouse. The next step will be the energy transition: the most important investment will be the construction of a geothermal power plant, which will cover the whole energy and heat requirements of the production process. In 2024 there will be amplified the photovoltaic system which will contain a rainwater collecting system. 

As far as the cultivation itself is concerned, the biggest challenge for the vast majority of tomato producers is the ToBRFV (tomato brown rugouse fruit virus), which has caused great damage to cultivation worldwide in recent years. We decided over a year ago that we would only plant ToBRFV-resistant varieties and have had very positive experiences with this.

Source: Fri-El Green House

What is unique about Fri-El Green House compared to competitors?

Our operation in Ostellato is unique in Italy, not only because of its cultivated area and its favorable geographical location in northern Italy but also because of the efficiency in cultivation from the high-tech greenhouses. Furthermore, we are using renewable energy and a modern packing station, which allows us to produce up to 750,000 trays each week. Approximately 80% of the quantities sold reach our customers' central warehouses within 24 hours from the moment of loading.

In the domestic market (Italy) we reach most destinations within 6-12 hours. Maximum freshness through short transit times represents a competitive advantage over our competitors. All these things leverage each other in the value chain and their combination result in a unique business, which enables us to have a remarkable competitive advantage compared to many other players in the market.

Source: Fri-El Green House

What are some other relevant metrics of the company (growing area size, production quantity, team size, etc.)?

In 2023, during the peak season, we employed over 600 people, and we have 40% quota of women. The harvested is about 11 million kilograms. As already mentioned, our cultivation area is approximately 30 hectares.

Source: Fri-El Green House

What are some goals in 2024 and beyond for Fri-El Green House?

In 2024, we expect a harvest of around 14 million kilograms and, in addition to cocktail vine tomatoes, Strabini vine tomatoes, and premium vine tomatoes, we will also offer a larger quantity of cucumbers. The range is rounded off with snack cucumbers, which we grow for selected customers based on delivery agreements.

Source: Fri-El Green House

How can people connect with you or learn more about Fri-El Green House?

If you want to learn more about our company, you are always welcome to contact via email (info@f-gh.it) or through LinkedIn (https://it.linkedin.com/company/fri-el-green-house-soc-agr).

Source: Fri-El Green House

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