At Organifarms, a start-up in Constance, Hannah Louise Brown, the head of communications, and her team had their sights set on expanding into international markets from the very beginning
Organifarms is revolutionizing strawberry harvesting with its Berry robot, bringing efficiency and sustainability to the industry
What is the driving force behind the founding of Organifarms, and what sets it apart as a start-up?
Our team was motivated by a strong desire to make a positive social impact. For all of us, the future of agriculture was an issue. How can we make food production sustainable in the context of climate change and a growing world population? We decided to develop automation technology for a large area of agriculture to contribute there precisely to sustainable and fair food production.
What is the exact benefit of using a harvesting robot?
In agriculture, there is a great shortage of personnel, especially in labor-intensive tasks such as harvesting. Berry can help precisely to replace these workers who are missing. And it can create security and keep the quality of the fruit constant. Less fruit has to be thrown away because he doesn’t touch the fruit during harvesting and doesn’t cause bruising or other defects.
Is this a technology only for highly developed countries?
No, our technology is not exclusive to highly developed countries. While it certainly benefits such countries, it is also well-suited for regions facing labor shortages or challenging climatic conditions. We recognize the potential to further enhance and expand our technology, and there are virtually no limits to what can be achieved in its ongoing development.
The future of agriculture is an issue for us: how to make food production sustainable in the context of climate change and a growing world population.
Which types of fruits are compatible with Organifarms’ technology?
Initially, our Berry robot is designed specifically for strawberry harvesting. However, as we continue to advance our technology, it has the potential to be adapted for other similarly cultivated fruits like tomatoes or peppers. Moreover, we envision further development that would enable the harvesting of various fruits and vegetables. While our current technology is well-suited for hanging fruits, the possibilities for expansion and innovation are practically limitless.
How did the Organifarms team come together?
The Organifarms team came together at a hackathon in the beginning. Despite being from different regions and backgrounds, we embraced diversity and formed a cohesive team. Our members come from various countries, and we prioritize effective communication by predominantly using English. As we grow, our aim is to continue building an international team that brings together diverse experiences and perspectives.
How does Organifarms ensure effective and inclusive communication with its international customers?
Organifarms proactively engaged in direct communication with potential customers, both locally and globally, right from the beginning. We aimed to gain market insights and understand the unique challenges faced in different countries. International trade fairs, workshops, and networking opportunities were essential for us. Additionally, being a member of organizations such as the FarmTech Society and Association for Vertical Farming allowed us to connect with the international community in our field and exchange valuable ideas. This approach enables us to stay well-informed, adapt to diverse market demands, and foster meaningful relationships with customers worldwide.
We want to continue to grow internationally as a team and bring together very different experiences and backgrounds
And what about local customers here at Lake Constance?
Organifarms places great importance on its local customers. We have built strong relationships with them, taking advantage of the close proximity to collaborate and test our robot with nearby growers. We actively engage with farmers in Reichenau to understand their expectations and challenges for the future. By prioritizing these local connections, we ensure that our solutions align with the needs of our immediate community.
What are now the most important target markets in which you are already active?
Currently, Organifarms is actively targeting several key markets, including Germany, the Netherlands, Great Britain, and Belgium. Among these, the Netherlands stands out due to its widespread and technologically advanced strawberry cultivation. We have proactively engaged with suppliers in these markets, establishing relationships and gathering valuable feedback. We believe in the importance of early customer engagement to ensure that our developments align with their expectations and needs. Looking ahead, North America and Japan are also significant markets for us, as our technology aligns well with the conditions in these regions.
What role do cooperations play for Organifarms?
For expansion, service and maintenance, international partners are very important for us. That is, we want to build a network with regional distributors, but also with regional service and maintenance networks that support us in the respective target regions and also become partners. We actually already have international collaborations, – such as a technology partnership with Metazet FormFlex, a company in the Netherlands, from whom we source our autonomous platform. Working with international partners will become even more important in the future, especially for sales, but also for service and maintenance.
Harvesting robot Berry.
The international development team of Organifarms is working on the optimization of mechanics and digital control of the smart harvester. There are no limits for new fields of application.