Korean horticulture manufacturer GreenPlus sets sights on WA expansion
A leading commercial horticulture manufacturer based in South Korea has set its sights on WA as it taps into Australia’s $15.6 billion a year horticulture sector.
GreenPlus — a KOSDAQ-listed company specialising in smart technology glasshouses and vertical farms — secured an Australian foothold in January with the opening of a Brisbane office.
GreenPlus Australia managing director and CEO Steve Kim visited WA for the first time this month to meet with agribusiness leaders, growers and researchers.
He told Countryman the company — which has customers in the Republic of Korea, Japan, Thailand, Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and South America — was keen to develop “key business partnerships” in WA.
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“Our motto and philosophy is to be able to feed the world through technology . . . and our goal is to become the foremost supplier of smart agricultural technology in Australia,” Mr Kim said.
“Australia has the opportunity to be the food bowl of the rest of the Asia . . . but the accessibility of Australian technology, in terms of the horticulture sector, is very limited, because there are only a few players in the market.”
During the week-long trip, Mr Kim met with representatives from Vegetables WA, the Great Southern Development Commission, the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, and various horticulture and aquaculture businesses.
During a tour of Plantrite Nursery in Bullsbrook, he spoke about GreenPlus’ ambitions in WA — and why the company was “poised to shape the future of Australian agriculture”.
“Europe and America are huge markets in terms of undercover or protected cropping, but their greenhouse industries are very saturated,” Mr Kim said.
“I think the Australian market is at an early stage, but there’s huge potential to grow.”
He said GreenPlus’ South Korean manufacturing facility was close enough to “serve the market confidently”, adding that the company was ready to tackle significant projects in Australia, where it has a long-term plan to establish a factory.
Glasshouses account for just 295ha of cropping nationwide in Australia, including about 9ha in WA, but the protected cropping industry has experienced more than a 60 per cent growth rate nationwide over the past five years.
Plantrite owner David Lullfitz — a third generation WA native plant nurseryman — described Mr Kim’s vision for Australian expansion as “very impressive”.
No stranger to large-scale undertakings, Mr Lullfitz’s nursery has the ability to provide 18 million plants to revegetation projects across WA and was last year involved in one of the State’s biggest ever tree-planting projects.
Mr Lullfitz said he visited the US recently and was blown away by the scale of nursery and horticulture production outside Australia.
“There’s so much undercover; you walk into 200 acres (80ha) of glasshouse . . . and being from Australia, and particularly WA, you just can’t fathom the scale that stuff is produced on,” he said.
“And then, when you look down at the crops, they’re just perfect.”
GreenPlus’ glasshouse technology is used to grow a variety of crops including cucumbers, spring onions, tomatoes, strawberries, mangoes, cannabis and fresh flowers.
The company — which is also involved in the aquaculture manufacturing sector — also operates three of its own commercial farms in South Korea, producing eels, strawberries and leafy greens.
Mr Kim said the latter was a 1.4ha, fully-automated vertical farm producing a whopping 6.5 tonnes of spring onions daily and using 98 per cent less water than a traditional field farm.
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