Verde Compacto launched Huvster, an intelligent vegetable growing system inside a recycled shipping container. Huvster has the capacity to feed around 70-120 families by growing up to 200 times more vegetables per square meter and using much less water and fertilizer than harvesting on the soil. With these characteristics Verde Compacto is helping the communities to be more sustainable, consumers to consume responsibly by producing their food without affecting the environment; and above all is helping the communities to fight against hunger. The main goal of the company is to guarantee food security for the planet through different practices and the assistance of technology, having a positive impact on society and the environment.
EGADE Business School Tecnologico de Monterrey
Verde Compacto offers an integrated, customizable, intelligent indoor vertical hydroponic farming system that supports the growth of different plant types. The idea was generated when the co-founders realized they wanted to find a more sustainable and intelligent way to grow plant foods.
It has a relevant impact on the SDGs since it allows for food to be grown anywhere at any time of the year. This brings food closer to the cities and communities allowing them to be more sustainable and avoiding transportation needs. It also significantly reduces the use of water and fertilizer compared to traditional agricultural methods, as well as having less waste.
The technology consists of a recycled container that provides the conditions for indoor plant growth through a circulating water system and uses LED lights in the germinating zone, simulating the condition needed for the seeds to grow. Plants are placed in vertical towers where they receive drip irrigation and grow until they are harvested. The container also has sensors that measure carbon dioxide, humidity, and temperature levels. The blue and red light inside the container simulates sunlight allowing the plants to photosynthesis. Their main product is a 40 ft. recycled shipping container called “Huvster” which is described as follows:
• An intelligent system for measuring and controlling temperature, humidity, irrigation, and other aspects of vegetable cultivation by using hydroponics (agriculture without soil).
• Savings of 90 percent for water and 80 percent for fertilizers compared to traditional methods.
• It measures and regulates plant nutrition levels so that they grow at the needed rate.
• It reduces risks of pests or plague.
• For example, it can produce 3,000 lettuces per month on average, or 20 kilos of oregano, coriander, and other herbs monthly, and about 30 to 35 kilos of vegetables.
In very hot or cold places where energy consumption would be of higher demand to control temperature, the huvster can be adapted with solar panels to be self-sufficient.
Verde Compacto was born from a dream that Jorge Lizardi and Juan Succar had since kids. “Since we were kids, we always loved to be out in nature, we loved to go to the mountains, we loved animals. So, we always wanted to do something to have a good impact on the environment,” says Jorge Lizardi.
They first started with an organic fertilizer company based on earthworm’s humus which led to an interest in agriculture innovations. By working closely with farmers, they found out that there are a lot of opportunities in agriculture, improvements have only been in the machinery or some greenhouses. But, they saw that our food is being produced in the same way we did for the past 80 years, using nonorganic fertilizers that pollute our soil and environment.
“When me and Jorge saw this, we were very impressed, “Oh, man. how is this possible? That we are still growing our food in this way, there must be something different, there must be something much more sustainable and intelligent. And that was our inspiration, to start this project, to really make a change on how we are producing our food today, and how we will produce it tomorrow as well” says Juan Succar.
The solutions offered by Verde Compacto have a significant positive impact on the environment and society. It also generates economic value to the company and its stakeholders (providers, customers, employees, etc.). By using a recycled container to build an intelligent indoor vertical farming system that can be installed anywhere and used at any time of year, they are providing an alternative to traditional farming practices that is much more environmentally friendly (uses less water, less fertilizer and produces less waste) and beneficial to the society (grow locally, become more sustainable and consume responsibly).
It also has the potential to be a scalable solution, since the system can be adapted to containers of different sizes and can be shipped anywhere in the world with a “plug-and-play” system that only needs electricity and water.
Verde Compacto has around 15 employees, all focusing on growing the company and continuing the innovation. The revenue in 2019 was approximately $400,000 USD. Their business model is direct sales to hotels, farmers, restaurants, supermarkets, shopping malls, and remote communities through government programs, as well as to neighboring communities in urban cities. Each container is sold at approximately $40,000 USD. An alternative they offer is to lease the containers to facilitate their customers with the acquisition of the system.
In 2017 Verde Compacto attended a fair in Colombia, this gave them the opportunity to make alliances with other companies, reach new customers and close their first international sale to Tahiti. Since then, overseas sales have become their main profit generator. One of their customers is a hotel chain in the Pacific Islands, where they can grow their own food on the island and eliminate the dependence on importing certain food plants.
Other customers are traditional farmers that use the technology as a complementary system to their traditional method, which helps them ensure production and diversify its growing techniques,
They’ve also worked with urban developments and neighborhoods so that they can grow their plant foods locally, contributing to having sustainable cities.
Verde Compacto has been awarded 3rd place at the Heineken Green Challenge and Entrepreneur en Español mentioned it as one of the ventures to follow in 2020.
Their future plans are to keep developing new products to improve agriculture and strengthen their position in the Latin American, Asia, and North American markets.
This innovation benefits the environment and society in several ways. Regarding the environment, the innovation contributes first by using a recycled container as part of its solution. It reduces transportation needs and pollution by bringing the capacity to grow the plants where they will be consumed. With the use of this technology, the use of water and fertilizer is reduced by 90% and 80%, respectively, compared to traditional agriculture methods. This contributes to the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from fertilizers. Finally, there is much less waste compared to traditional methods (company estimates minimal or zero waste). Each Huvster can save up to 5,000 square meters of trees by avoiding deforestation for agriculture.
Regarding society, this innovation aids in bringing the capacity to communities to grow different kinds of plant foods (+200 types) locally. This can be useful for remote cities or communities that don’t have easy access to the mass-commercial agriculture chain or would otherwise be able to obtain at a very high cost (these projects are done through government partnership). For big cities it is also an option to have as part of a residential building or neighborhood, increasing the sustainability of that location and allowing them to source their food plants locally. It also allows for commercial business (restaurants, supermarkets, etc.) to grow their own food plants locally in their establishments. Finally, it allows people to have their own indoor farm in their houses or neighborhoods (the solution can be adapted to different size needs), helping them in having a more sustainable lifestyle.
Juan Gabriel Succar, Co-Founder
Jorge Lizardi, Co-Founder
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León, Guanajuato, MX
Business Website: https://www.verdecompacto.com/
Year Founded: 2018
Number of Employees: 11 to 50
Verde Compacto is a Mexican company dedicated to reinventing the food industry through technology. Offering the opportunity to grow, sell and consume vegetables locally, with a highly productive and intelligent indoor growing system - the Huvster.
Verde Compacto aspires to be part of the network of farmers, entrepreneurs, real estate, corporations and educational institutions that are leading the sustainable transformation of the agricultural Industry.