Anne-Cécile de Joode, Head of Strategy and Marketing with myfood, describes how this French-based innovative company is in the process of revolutionizing the traditional veggie patch and turning smart greenhouses into the vegetable gardens of the future.
myfood was launched in early 2016 in France. In essence, we help people grow their own food at home with smart greenhouses and agronomic support thereafter.
We consider that there are around 16 million gardens in France. There are two ways of looking at this:
13% of the French population eats organic food. 13% of these 16 million gardens equals approximately two million gardens.
40% of gardens in France have a vegetable garden and about 30% of these households have sufficient income to purchase our greenhouses, which again comes to approximately two million gardens.
If we consider the European countries that would be most interested in our products; the UK, the Scandinavian countries and Germany, this would include about 10 million gardens.
We also focus on areas such as balconies and parking lots and our Aerospring solution is for very small balconies and even indoors if the interior is sunny enough. Rooftops are also possible if they’re flat and legislation and Body Corporates allow.
Usually, clients come to us online and ask for a quote and more information. We have experts on the team who help the client pick the best location depending on geography and which direction the area’s facing.
We also help with the administrative process such as declaring the greenhouse to the council. Clients can either prepare the field and install the greenhouses themselves with our online tutorials or they can outsource. We deliver and can provide an installer. For field prep, we can also recommend professionals.
We then follow up with agronomic support every day and the client becomes part of our community. Currently, we have 500 people in this community who share their experiences, pictures, success stories, and tips with others.
We have a team of in-house experts – three agronomic engineers who are there to answer any questions from the community. Sometimes what we call our “pioneers”, or our early customers, are even quicker than our engineers to answer any questions as they’ve become such pros with our smart greenhouses.
Yes definitely, and I’d put it down to three major trends:
People have different and healthier food habits and are shifting towards plant-based eating.
There’s definitely growing concern for the environmental impact of food and agriculture.
The recent pandemic has influenced the way people live – people stay at home more and may choose to upgrade their living space.
In France, greenhouses need to be declared to the council. The legislation will vary depending on which country you reside in. For rooftops in a shared building one obviously needs the consent of the Body Corporate.
We’re currently developing our professional clientele as we have the likes of schools, nursing homes, and companies who are showing an increased interest in our offerings. Companies in Paris, for example, would like rooftop greenhouses for their employees, and nursing homes are using them as therapy or as an educational tool to teach the kids and elderly how to eat properly and stay fit and healthy.
The market’s continually expanding and we’re expecting exciting and bright times ahead.
Yes. We’re very clear that included in the initial price is lifetime agronomic support. We believe that the community is super important and that sharing the information at hand, and for free, is vital to the healthy growth and development of our community.
We’re primarily in France (80%) but we also have clients in other French-speaking countries such as Canada, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Switzerland. We also have clients in Germany, Spain, and Qatar.
We have big plans to expand internationally. We’ve got projects planned for this year which include shipping greenhouses to Canada and Germany, and some have already taken place. International growth is a big objective for us.
We also strive to improve our greenhouses continually to reduce carbon impact (and ultimately reach carbon neutrality) and we’re aiming to improve the productivity of our greenhouses for our customers. Currently, our greenhouses can produce up to 400 kilos a year, which represents around 70% of the annual needs of a small family. However, our goal is to reach full autonomy for our Pioneers.