How AgriFORCE wants to be a “game changer” in agricultural technology
Food security faces multiple stressors that push production systems to their limits. Temperatures are reaching record highs around the world and water availability is under pressure, meaning the agriculture industry is being forced to reassess how it uses its resources to protect against extreme weather events. Meanwhile, food producers must balance the need to grow more crops with increased yields. Innovation and the development of new technological approaches in the agricultural sector are essential, underpinning the ability of the agricultural industry to respond to climate challenges.
AgriFORCE is an agricultural technology company that wants to help growers understand opportunities for innovation and leverage R&D. It focuses on building an integrated platform that combines the best technology and the best intellectual property to provide solutions that promote sustainable crops and the production of nutritious food for people around the world.
“The quality and quantity of food we depend on is under threat, from extreme weather and water scarcity to supply chain dysfunction and war. At AgriFORCE, we are trying to solve these challenges by producing more nutritious and sustainable food at scale, which is also economically viable, through revolutionary approaches. The ultimate goal is to improve yields, plant health, and better standard operating procedures and approaches to improve agriculture and floriculture as an industry,”General Manager Ingo Mueller told FoodNavigator.
M&A strategy focuses on intellectual property and integrated solutions
The Vancouver-based company is considering solutions in three ways. First, Mueller said, it’s important to avoid piecemeal solutions and focus on integrated responses to these problems. As a company, the group seeks holistic solutions in all aspects of cultivation, including the cultures themselves as well as operations, facilities, systems and the environment. “The industry is fragmented, and we recognize that without a united approach, we are rapidly approaching food safety risks, even in the wealthiest places in the world,”the agricultural technology expert warned.
These answers must be based on science and sound agricultural knowledge. Mueller believes research from the Netherlands, in particular, is generating new science-based ways of thinking about the issues facing agricultural production. He describes the country as a “world powerhouse in agricultural innovation”, noting that it is a major agricultural exporter “despite its size and geography”. “That’s because historically, businesses, guilds, and government have chosen to operate in an open source environment to combine solutions and innovate through shared research, knowledge, and problem solving. Recently, there have been many cases of large investments in indoor agriculture in the United States and elsewhere – particularly in terms of land, facilities, technology – that lack knowledge of how to operate and deliver. The result is that the performance and yields of these installations are not up to expectations.
AgriFORCE is currently in the process of acquiring the Dutch consulting company Delphy.Mueller said the insight the group can offer CEA will be an important benefit moving forward. “Controlled Environment Agriculture, or CEA, requires expertise and training in implementation, and this is where our consultancy business, Delphy, comes in handy,”we have been told.
“Through Delphy, our customers fall into three main categories: growers and operators of indoor and open-field agriculture, from floriculture to vegetables and fruit; governments advancing agriculture; and agricultural technology companies testing and developing new solutions in the areas of AI, digital solutions, robotics, lighting, cropping systems and fertigation. With the combined expertise and knowledge of Delphy consultants and AgriFORCE experts, we are also able to provide feasibility studies, operational advice and training for future generations of growers and operators.
Finally, Mueller pointed out, AgriFORCE is focused on supporting innovation in agricultural technology by developing intellectual property assets. “We are placing a renewed emphasis on intellectual property and its development, acquisition and commercialization. At AgriFORCE, we combine our own deep knowledge, intellectual property and technology and create a platform for integrating the solutions of others.
Create ‘AgTECH 2.0’
Delphy isn’t the only newcomer to the AgriFORCE stable. Earlier this year, the agricultural technology company revealed that it had entered into a letter of intent with fellow European Deroose Plants, one of the world’s largest tissue culture propagation companies with a leading position in the horticulture, plantation crops and fruits and vegetables. The deal, which values Deroose at approximately $69 million, is next in AgriFORCE’s “vision to become a global leader in delivering next-generation food and plant products for businesses and consumers,” according to Muller.
“Deroose’s crop-specific intellectual property helps increase yields per hectare for crops such as rubber, palm and banana. This is particularly important where arable land is scarce and restricted and where governments no longer allow additional land to be made available for these crops,”thought the CEO.
The acquisition strategy focuses on AgriFORCE’s ambition to grow its knowledge base in key areas. “Through our consultancy Delphy, the pending acquisition of DeRoose Plants, our own intellectual property in the next generation of greenhouses as well as our licensing rights to Radical Clean Solutions Hydroxyls devices for controlled environment and food manufacturing facilities, we are creating an integrated agricultural technology company – what we call “AgTech 2.0” – to drive and deliver solutions for a more sustainable and safe system of factories and production and food processing. Through our CEA and the acquisition of the intellectual property of ongoing crops, we aim to use significantly less land, water and energy while generating higher yields.
“Additionally, with our patent-pending un (Think) Foods grain and pulse processing intellectual property, we aim to bring to market a line of flours and grain and pulse products that maximize grain nutrition and legumes while reducing starch to produce more nutritious and better-for-you products. We recently announced the launch of Awakened Flour, a product from our (un)Think brand, which is the first step in bringing a series of premium products to market, including pancake mixes, breads, pasta, and more currently under study and in development. AgriFORCE’s (un)Think products offer consumers and food companies new products and ingredients that redefine nutrition and taste.
AgriFORCE’s portfolio of agro-technology solutions
Sharing examples of how AgriFORCE’s unique services “achieve our goal of delivering more nutritious and sustainable food at scale,” Mueller provided insight into the group’s focus areas, including:
- Delphy: an agriculture and floriculture consulting firm with “decades of experience, hundreds of experts and thousands of customers worldwide”.
- DeRoose: A “leader” in ornamental plants through advanced tissue culture and plant propagation. “Their proprietary intellectual property on plantation crops like rubber and oil palm will redefine sustainability with faster maturing, higher yielding trees,”predicts the general manager.
- StrengthGH+: “Our next-generation greenhouse captures the power of the sun and the full spectrum of UV light with a revolutionary design that enables lower energy consumption and higher yields.”
- Radical Clean Solutions Hydroxyls Device: Enables the natural removal of pathogens (viruses, bacteria, and molds) as well as VOCs in greenhouses and food manufacturing facilities.
- Foods not (thought out): “Aims to undermine our traditional understanding of the supply and processing of wheat flours and other grains and pulses”,Mueller explained. “These alternatives provide superior fiber and protein nutrition while significantly reducing starches, answering consumers’ quest for products that are healthy, nutritious and without compromising on taste, quality or texture.”
“What sets us apart is that everything we do is based on knowledge and intellectual property, to generate value in a food and plant-based market. The AgriFORCE model brings together the best of agriculture to benefit customers, consumers and communities – whether through high-tech cultivation greenhouses for high-value crops, advanced propagation of tissue cultures, systems innovative solutions that destroy pathogens in real time, or hands-on advice from the world’s top agricultural consultants. It’s all tied to our purpose, which is to positively transform farm, food and family, every day, everywhere.