It is anticipated that the Controlled Environment / Urban / Vertical farming market will register substantial growth over the coming years, amidst burgeoning urbanisation, population growth, food inaccessibility, depleted soil value, increasing health issues and climate change.

More and more examples of hostile weather conditions coupled with over-intensive farming of the land along with the use of chemicals, have signified the importance of vertical farming. Today and for the foreseeable future, the world needs sustainable operations that reduce the adverse climatic impact to dramatically reduce pollution levels and offer a healthy fresh alternative to mass production of high fat, high salt foods.

Sustainable activities will help fuel the growth in vertical farming.

The initial GBS Modular Vertical Farm was calculated to an optimum size through control room data input, crop requirement data and mathematical modelling, and is currently based upon a hydroponic system using horizontal trays, specialised lighting and a hybrid power generating system.

We can create vertical farms of almost any size and capacity either on a standalone basis or for creating within an existing envelope; but given the necessary data and understanding of crop requirements, we can also use the data to produce farms of optimum size to maximise crop yields.  

Growing automation in agriculture and increasing use of big data and predictive analytics for maximising yields are also likely to drive the market, as well as the urgent need to satisfy the global markets’ need for healthy eating.

Using the experience and expertise within our group of strategic partners and specialists, our Research and Development team are working on other vertical tower systems and growing systems which will utilise eaves within the modular building designs and proliferate crop yields within the same building.

GBS is also exploring practical commercial scale operations utilising Aeroponic systems, which may have applications for situations where water is scarce or in situations where the application suits certain crops better than Hydroponics.



Many farms are sold to other operators either on a complete farm basis or in some instances to simply supply the shell.

Some farms may be sold within existing farming communities or perhaps as shared units with farming contractor groups.

Farms of various sizes may be sold to hotels and restaurants as well as local projects to establish community urban farms and also due to growing interest from current fresh produce supply chains who sell directly into supermarkets and fresh food outlets.

Food is probably the most common use of vertical farming operations and for more detailed analysis, please see Food Security and Accessibility and The Future of Food Production.

As a quick reference guide, see the following opportunities simply within the UK below:



Research inclusive of UK Government stats show that the UK has:

  • 28,705 Licensed restaurants
  • 23,000 Unlicensed restaurants and cafes
  • 37,456 Food specialists, food stands & pop-up eateries.
  • 30,885 Pubs (many serving food)
  • 45,000 Hotels
  • Approximately 700 Farmers markets
  • 4,000 Farm shops
  • 41 Listed Airline prestigious food suppliers


Such outlets may include:

  • Hotels & Restaurants
  • Airline catering
  • Health centres
  • Modern cafes
  • High-end grocery and delicatessens
  • High-end veg box suppliers
  • Premium wholesalers
  • Premium caterers
  • Specialist food services
  • Events caterers
  • Celebrity Chefs
  • Ingredient specialists
  • Growing next to distribution centres


Our Research and Development team are working alongside health care plant specialists inclusive of senior development professionals and localised NHS Trusts.


The market for the medicinal plants and herbs is divided, roughly, as follows:

  • 48% Herbal Medicines
  • 17% Cosmetics
  • 35% Supplements and functional food

Phytopharmaceuticals are herbal medicinal products with pure active substances that are derived from plants or parts of plants.

The healthcare market potential is vast.

In 2019, it was estimated that by 2025, the Herbal Medicine trade would surpass USD$129 billion, with Medicinal plants taking USD$60 billion and Herbal extracts at another USD$44.6 billion.

In a recent report of the World Health Organization, the percentage of the population which has used plant-based medicine at least once is 48% in Australia, 70% in Canada and 75% in France.

It is estimated that almost 80% of Africans and 40% of the Chinese population meet their healthcare needs using traditional medicines – thus, international trade in medicines ranks highly within the global economy in both developing and industrialised countries.

Research has demonstrated that following several trials, indications are that medicinal plants grown under controlled environments such as vertical farms, may facilitate the development of consistent and excellent quality Phyto-pharmaceutical products from many medicinal plants.


Industry observers cite the following major trends in vertical pharmaceutical crop farming:

  • Active compounds based on natural products.
  • Extracts, nutritional supplements
  • Natural fragrances
  • Flavours and food additives
  • Product purity

A Canadian study in late 2016 showed that in a range of random sample products, several “plants” were listed as ingredients, on as many as 27,000 occasions:   

  • Tea such as Chamomile            
  • Mint
  • Roots (Various)
  • Sage
  • Nettle
  • Fennel
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Ginger
  • Anis
  • Chicory
  • Vegetable Oils
  • Beets
  • Peppers
  • Chillies

Certain types of chillies have been used both as a food and as a medicine for thousands of years – to reduce pain and swelling, lowering triglyceride and cholesterol levels (Diabetes) and to assist in fighting viruses and harmful bacteria whilst other chilli plants are a basic ingredient of commercial pain relief ointments, as well as helping to dissolve blood clots.

Hydroponic systems have the advantage of producing high quality herbs and roots which are free of toxins found in the normal environment - for example, heavy metals in soils.

Apart from the traditional market segments, the rapidly growing market of supplement and functional food in Europe poses significant opportunities for all active in the value chain i.e., farmers, local collectors, resource managers, processors, and distributors. 

Natural Cosmetics

From EIP-Agri Focus Group on Plant-based medicinal & Cosmetic products, it was noted that natural cosmetics are also enjoying a massive take-up. Currently around 90% ingredients come from wild flora and only 10% are cultivated on a commercial scale; however, the market for natural and organic cosmetics is rapidly growing which is now driving demand for plants.

Europe is by far, the largest market for natural cosmetics, but the last thing this industry wants, is to become farmers, what they want are suppliers who can offer local, high quality botanical products, on time and within budget. 

The beauty of a Vertical Farm is that in a totally controlled environment, programmed to grow the specific plants, and without any of the climatic conditions, pests, diseases to interfere with progress, the buyer can be sure of receiving the plants exactly when scheduled to do so.         

Pet foods

Within the production of pet foods, we are seeing several quite novel ingredients that meet the criteria of providing the right ones which meet with sustainability requirements, and these include quinoa, duckweed, green leaves, and microalgae amongst others. Pulses are also a good way of providing high protein sources as well as being used to create natural colouring.  

Pulse protein isolates are used to make cat milk as they have excellent emulsifying properties, have heat stability, and lack lactose, as well as making dental sticks and chewing bones. Recent analysis has shown that the global pet milk replacement market alone was worth US$96m.  


Vertical farming for healthcare, as well as the offshoots such as ingredients, cosmetics, pet foods as well as plant-based foods such as chocolate are here to stay.

Natural Solutions – Naturally

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