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Price access helps Safeway employees cut health costs

Safeway employees with access to reference-based pricing for health care laboratory services spent less for the services than employees without the same information, according to a joint study conducted by Safeway and Cigna Corp.

With access to an online shopping tool that showed information about the cost, location and type of lab services in their geographic area using a reference-based pricing tool, Safeway employees were able to find lower costs for lab services than another group without the reference-based pricing benefit, the study found.

Dr. Kent L. Bradley, SVP and chief medical officer for Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway, said, “Thoughtful application of reference pricing warrants consideration as a mechanism to improve value in health care and help individuals reduce their costs for certain services.”

Reference-based pricing is a benefit design that sets a maximum contribution, or reference price, from a health plan to pay for a particular service — in this case lab services. According to Cigna, Bloomfield, Conn., some employers see this type of benefit design as a way to incentivize employees to consider the price of services when making health care decisions; employees also save money when they choose services at or below a reference price, Cigna noted.

According to Jackie Aube, Cigna’s VP for product, “The goal of reference-based pricing is to help individuals become smarter health care consumers by giving them the opportunity to choose health care services at the best price without compromising quality. The education and online tools that health plans and employers offer can help individuals make more informed decisions.”

The study involved two groups of employees enrolled in a Cigna health plan — one comprised of Safeway employees with access to reference-based pricing benefits for lab services, the other comprised of employees at various companies who worked in the same area and received the same lab services as Safeway employees but did not have the same benefit.

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Rooftop greenhouse delivers fresh and low transport costs

Solution for open land in big cities
Rooftop greenhouse delivers fresh and low transport costs

The scarcity of open land in large cities would seem to be an insurmountable obstacle to building a profitable agricultural business in New York City, but Gotham Greens has managed to do just that. With a couple of hydroponic growing operations in the city, they provide high-quality, local greens to the residents of New York and the surrounding area.

“There is not a lot of space available in large cities, and any land that is available is probably more valuable to a real estate developer than to a grower,” explained Viraj Puri of Gotham Greens. Aside from the difficulty of securing land on which to grow fresh produce, the quality of soil in most cities is usually unfit for agricultural purposes. Gotham Greens’ founders looked into growing on rooftops, which are plentiful in New York, but replenishing soil or soil substrate on top of buildings is cost-prohibitive and could structurally compromise some buildings. So Gotham Greens went with a rooftop hydroponic growing system that delivers nutrients to plants via recycled water.

“We employ a nutrient film technique that runs a stream of water just beneath the plant roots,” said Viraj Puri. “The water is recycled, so we use about a tenth of the water that conventional growers use and we can reach yields that are 20 times more than those from conventional crops.” Gotham Greens’ total climate system measures temperature, humidity, light levels and an array of other factors in order to create the perfect growing climate for their greens. The automated greenhouse then adjusts shades, vents and heaters to facilitate optimal plant growth 365 days out of the year. While heating a greenhouse during the cold New York winter uses more energy than a greenhouse in Mexico would ever need, Viraj Puri argues that their energy efficient system and the benefits of local produce outweigh the higher heating costs.

“We don’t have to transport our produce over long distances, so we save on transportation and we use fewer fossil fuels,” said Viraj Puri. “A lot of the design features of our facility and the renewable energy resources we have means we need about half the heating that other greenhouses in New York need.” Because they can pick their greens in the morning and have them in a supermarket later that afternoon also means their products is fresh, relative to greens shipped from Mexico. In fact, their second facility is located on the roof of Whole Foods Market’s flagship Brooklyn location, meaning that the product is only an elevator ride away from farm to shelf. Gotham Greens currently sells all of their produce within a 20 miles radius of their greenhouses where the entire growing process is sterile and insects are used as pest control, so there are no pesticide residues or contaminants to worry about. A longer shelf life and just a higher class of product attracts consumers and ensures repeat sales and premium prices.

“Our focus is on packaged salads and leafy greens that we can sell as a high-quality product and be competitive in retail stores,” said Viraj Puri. “It seems like there are more and more start-ups that are interested in vertical farms and completely indoor growing, so we want to focus on the product. You can only get attention so long for growing in the city, but the product has to stand on its own two feet. We don’t want to focus on trying to re-invent something or come up with a new business model; our goal is to focus on putting out a high-quality product.” Gotham Greens currently has two greenhouses in the New York area that provide their branded greens to retailers like Whole Foods Market, D’Agostino, Fresh Direct and Pea Pod as well as smaller neighborhood grocers. They plan on opening two more greenhouses in 2015, a 60,000 sq ft rooftop farm in Queens and a 75,000 sq ft  facility in Chicago, which is slated to be the world’s largest rooftop farm.

For more information:
Viraj Puri
Gotham Greens
Tel: +1 (646) 458-1747
[email protected]
www.gothamgreens.com

Publication date: 12/16/2014
Author: Sander Bruins Slot
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com

Rooftop greenhouse delivers fresh and low transport costs

Solution for open land in big cities
Rooftop greenhouse delivers fresh and low transport costs

The scarcity of open land in large cities would seem to be an insurmountable obstacle to building a profitable agricultural business in New York City, but Gotham Greens has managed to do just that. With a couple of hydroponic growing operations in the city, they provide high-quality, local greens to the residents of New York and the surrounding area.

“There is not a lot of space available in large cities, and any land that is available is probably more valuable to a real estate developer than to a grower,” explained Viraj Puri of Gotham Greens. Aside from the difficulty of securing land on which to grow fresh produce, the quality of soil in most cities is usually unfit for agricultural purposes. Gotham Greens’ founders looked into growing on rooftops, which are plentiful in New York, but replenishing soil or soil substrate on top of buildings is cost-prohibitive and could structurally compromise some buildings. So Gotham Greens went with a rooftop hydroponic growing system that delivers nutrients to plants via recycled water.

“We employ a nutrient film technique that runs a stream of water just beneath the plant roots,” said Viraj Puri. “The water is recycled, so we use about a tenth of the water that conventional growers use and we can reach yields that are 20 times more than those from conventional crops.” Gotham Greens’ total climate system measures temperature, humidity, light levels and an array of other factors in order to create the perfect growing climate for their greens. The automated greenhouse then adjusts shades, vents and heaters to facilitate optimal plant growth 365 days out of the year. While heating a greenhouse during the cold New York winter uses more energy than a greenhouse in Mexico would ever need, Viraj Puri argues that their energy efficient system and the benefits of local produce outweigh the higher heating costs.

“We don’t have to transport our produce over long distances, so we save on transportation and we use fewer fossil fuels,” said Viraj Puri. “A lot of the design features of our facility and the renewable energy resources we have means we need about half the heating that other greenhouses in New York need.” Because they can pick their greens in the morning and have them in a supermarket later that afternoon also means their products is fresh, relative to greens shipped from Mexico. In fact, their second facility is located on the roof of Whole Foods Market’s flagship Brooklyn location, meaning that the product is only an elevator ride away from farm to shelf. Gotham Greens currently sells all of their produce within a 20 miles radius of their greenhouses where the entire growing process is sterile and insects are used as pest control, so there are no pesticide residues or contaminants to worry about. A longer shelf life and just a higher class of product attracts consumers and ensures repeat sales and premium prices.

“Our focus is on packaged salads and leafy greens that we can sell as a high-quality product and be competitive in retail stores,” said Viraj Puri. “It seems like there are more and more start-ups that are interested in vertical farms and completely indoor growing, so we want to focus on the product. You can only get attention so long for growing in the city, but the product has to stand on its own two feet. We don’t want to focus on trying to re-invent something or come up with a new business model; our goal is to focus on putting out a high-quality product.” Gotham Greens currently has two greenhouses in the New York area that provide their branded greens to retailers like Whole Foods Market, D’Agostino, Fresh Direct and Pea Pod as well as smaller neighborhood grocers. They plan on opening two more greenhouses in 2015, a 60,000 sq ft rooftop farm in Queens and a 75,000 sq ft  facility in Chicago, which is slated to be the world’s largest rooftop farm.

For more information:
Viraj Puri
Gotham Greens
Tel: +1 (646) 458-1747
[email protected]
www.gothamgreens.com

Publication date: 12/16/2014
Author: Sander Bruins Slot
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com

Rooftop greenhouse delivers fresh and low transport costs

Solution for open land in big cities
Rooftop greenhouse delivers fresh and low transport costs

The scarcity of open land in large cities would seem to be an insurmountable obstacle to building a profitable agricultural business in New York City, but Gotham Greens has managed to do just that. With a couple of hydroponic growing operations in the city, they provide high-quality, local greens to the residents of New York and the surrounding area.

“There is not a lot of space available in large cities, and any land that is available is probably more valuable to a real estate developer than to a grower,” explained Viraj Puri of Gotham Greens. Aside from the difficulty of securing land on which to grow fresh produce, the quality of soil in most cities is usually unfit for agricultural purposes. Gotham Greens’ founders looked into growing on rooftops, which are plentiful in New York, but replenishing soil or soil substrate on top of buildings is cost-prohibitive and could structurally compromise some buildings. So Gotham Greens went with a rooftop hydroponic growing system that delivers nutrients to plants via recycled water.

“We employ a nutrient film technique that runs a stream of water just beneath the plant roots,” said Viraj Puri. “The water is recycled, so we use about a tenth of the water that conventional growers use and we can reach yields that are 20 times more than those from conventional crops.” Gotham Greens’ total climate system measures temperature, humidity, light levels and an array of other factors in order to create the perfect growing climate for their greens. The automated greenhouse then adjusts shades, vents and heaters to facilitate optimal plant growth 365 days out of the year. While heating a greenhouse during the cold New York winter uses more energy than a greenhouse in Mexico would ever need, Viraj Puri argues that their energy efficient system and the benefits of local produce outweigh the higher heating costs.

“We don’t have to transport our produce over long distances, so we save on transportation and we use fewer fossil fuels,” said Viraj Puri. “A lot of the design features of our facility and the renewable energy resources we have means we need about half the heating that other greenhouses in New York need.” Because they can pick their greens in the morning and have them in a supermarket later that afternoon also means their products is fresh, relative to greens shipped from Mexico. In fact, their second facility is located on the roof of Whole Foods Market’s flagship Brooklyn location, meaning that the product is only an elevator ride away from farm to shelf. Gotham Greens currently sells all of their produce within a 20 miles radius of their greenhouses where the entire growing process is sterile and insects are used as pest control, so there are no pesticide residues or contaminants to worry about. A longer shelf life and just a higher class of product attracts consumers and ensures repeat sales and premium prices.

“Our focus is on packaged salads and leafy greens that we can sell as a high-quality product and be competitive in retail stores,” said Viraj Puri. “It seems like there are more and more start-ups that are interested in vertical farms and completely indoor growing, so we want to focus on the product. You can only get attention so long for growing in the city, but the product has to stand on its own two feet. We don’t want to focus on trying to re-invent something or come up with a new business model; our goal is to focus on putting out a high-quality product.” Gotham Greens currently has two greenhouses in the New York area that provide their branded greens to retailers like Whole Foods Market, D’Agostino, Fresh Direct and Pea Pod as well as smaller neighborhood grocers. They plan on opening two more greenhouses in 2015, a 60,000 sq ft rooftop farm in Queens and a 75,000 sq ft  facility in Chicago, which is slated to be the world’s largest rooftop farm.

For more information:
Viraj Puri
Gotham Greens
Tel: +1 (646) 458-1747
[email protected]
www.gothamgreens.com

Publication date: 12/16/2014
Author: Sander Bruins Slot
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com

Rooftop greenhouse delivers fresh and low transport costs

Solution for open land in big cities
Rooftop greenhouse delivers fresh and low transport costs

The scarcity of open land in large cities would seem to be an insurmountable obstacle to building a profitable agricultural business in New York City, but Gotham Greens has managed to do just that. With a couple of hydroponic growing operations in the city, they provide high-quality, local greens to the residents of New York and the surrounding area.

“There is not a lot of space available in large cities, and any land that is available is probably more valuable to a real estate developer than to a grower,” explained Viraj Puri of Gotham Greens. Aside from the difficulty of securing land on which to grow fresh produce, the quality of soil in most cities is usually unfit for agricultural purposes. Gotham Greens’ founders looked into growing on rooftops, which are plentiful in New York, but replenishing soil or soil substrate on top of buildings is cost-prohibitive and could structurally compromise some buildings. So Gotham Greens went with a rooftop hydroponic growing system that delivers nutrients to plants via recycled water.

“We employ a nutrient film technique that runs a stream of water just beneath the plant roots,” said Viraj Puri. “The water is recycled, so we use about a tenth of the water that conventional growers use and we can reach yields that are 20 times more than those from conventional crops.” Gotham Greens’ total climate system measures temperature, humidity, light levels and an array of other factors in order to create the perfect growing climate for their greens. The automated greenhouse then adjusts shades, vents and heaters to facilitate optimal plant growth 365 days out of the year. While heating a greenhouse during the cold New York winter uses more energy than a greenhouse in Mexico would ever need, Viraj Puri argues that their energy efficient system and the benefits of local produce outweigh the higher heating costs.

“We don’t have to transport our produce over long distances, so we save on transportation and we use fewer fossil fuels,” said Viraj Puri. “A lot of the design features of our facility and the renewable energy resources we have means we need about half the heating that other greenhouses in New York need.” Because they can pick their greens in the morning and have them in a supermarket later that afternoon also means their products is fresh, relative to greens shipped from Mexico. In fact, their second facility is located on the roof of Whole Foods Market’s flagship Brooklyn location, meaning that the product is only an elevator ride away from farm to shelf. Gotham Greens currently sells all of their produce within a 20 miles radius of their greenhouses where the entire growing process is sterile and insects are used as pest control, so there are no pesticide residues or contaminants to worry about. A longer shelf life and just a higher class of product attracts consumers and ensures repeat sales and premium prices.

“Our focus is on packaged salads and leafy greens that we can sell as a high-quality product and be competitive in retail stores,” said Viraj Puri. “It seems like there are more and more start-ups that are interested in vertical farms and completely indoor growing, so we want to focus on the product. You can only get attention so long for growing in the city, but the product has to stand on its own two feet. We don’t want to focus on trying to re-invent something or come up with a new business model; our goal is to focus on putting out a high-quality product.” Gotham Greens currently has two greenhouses in the New York area that provide their branded greens to retailers like Whole Foods Market, D’Agostino, Fresh Direct and Pea Pod as well as smaller neighborhood grocers. They plan on opening two more greenhouses in 2015, a 60,000 sq ft rooftop farm in Queens and a 75,000 sq ft  facility in Chicago, which is slated to be the world’s largest rooftop farm.

For more information:
Viraj Puri
Gotham Greens
Tel: +1 (646) 458-1747
[email protected]
www.gothamgreens.com

Publication date: 12/16/2014
Author: Sander Bruins Slot
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com

Rooftop greenhouse delivers fresh and low transport costs

Solution for open land in big cities
Rooftop greenhouse delivers fresh and low transport costs

The scarcity of open land in large cities would seem to be an insurmountable obstacle to building a profitable agricultural business in New York City, but Gotham Greens has managed to do just that. With a couple of hydroponic growing operations in the city, they provide high-quality, local greens to the residents of New York and the surrounding area.

“There is not a lot of space available in large cities, and any land that is available is probably more valuable to a real estate developer than to a grower,” explained Viraj Puri of Gotham Greens. Aside from the difficulty of securing land on which to grow fresh produce, the quality of soil in most cities is usually unfit for agricultural purposes. Gotham Greens’ founders looked into growing on rooftops, which are plentiful in New York, but replenishing soil or soil substrate on top of buildings is cost-prohibitive and could structurally compromise some buildings. So Gotham Greens went with a rooftop hydroponic growing system that delivers nutrients to plants via recycled water.

“We employ a nutrient film technique that runs a stream of water just beneath the plant roots,” said Viraj Puri. “The water is recycled, so we use about a tenth of the water that conventional growers use and we can reach yields that are 20 times more than those from conventional crops.” Gotham Greens’ total climate system measures temperature, humidity, light levels and an array of other factors in order to create the perfect growing climate for their greens. The automated greenhouse then adjusts shades, vents and heaters to facilitate optimal plant growth 365 days out of the year. While heating a greenhouse during the cold New York winter uses more energy than a greenhouse in Mexico would ever need, Viraj Puri argues that their energy efficient system and the benefits of local produce outweigh the higher heating costs.

“We don’t have to transport our produce over long distances, so we save on transportation and we use fewer fossil fuels,” said Viraj Puri. “A lot of the design features of our facility and the renewable energy resources we have means we need about half the heating that other greenhouses in New York need.” Because they can pick their greens in the morning and have them in a supermarket later that afternoon also means their products is fresh, relative to greens shipped from Mexico. In fact, their second facility is located on the roof of Whole Foods Market’s flagship Brooklyn location, meaning that the product is only an elevator ride away from farm to shelf. Gotham Greens currently sells all of their produce within a 20 miles radius of their greenhouses where the entire growing process is sterile and insects are used as pest control, so there are no pesticide residues or contaminants to worry about. A longer shelf life and just a higher class of product attracts consumers and ensures repeat sales and premium prices.

“Our focus is on packaged salads and leafy greens that we can sell as a high-quality product and be competitive in retail stores,” said Viraj Puri. “It seems like there are more and more start-ups that are interested in vertical farms and completely indoor growing, so we want to focus on the product. You can only get attention so long for growing in the city, but the product has to stand on its own two feet. We don’t want to focus on trying to re-invent something or come up with a new business model; our goal is to focus on putting out a high-quality product.” Gotham Greens currently has two greenhouses in the New York area that provide their branded greens to retailers like Whole Foods Market, D’Agostino, Fresh Direct and Pea Pod as well as smaller neighborhood grocers. They plan on opening two more greenhouses in 2015, a 60,000 sq ft rooftop farm in Queens and a 75,000 sq ft  facility in Chicago, which is slated to be the world’s largest rooftop farm.

For more information:
Viraj Puri
Gotham Greens
Tel: +1 (646) 458-1747
[email protected]
www.gothamgreens.com

Publication date: 12/16/2014
Author: Sander Bruins Slot
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com

Rooftop greenhouse delivers fresh and low transport costs

Solution for open land in big cities
Rooftop greenhouse delivers fresh and low transport costs

The scarcity of open land in large cities would seem to be an insurmountable obstacle to building a profitable agricultural business in New York City, but Gotham Greens has managed to do just that. With a couple of hydroponic growing operations in the city, they provide high-quality, local greens to the residents of New York and the surrounding area.

“There is not a lot of space available in large cities, and any land that is available is probably more valuable to a real estate developer than to a grower,” explained Viraj Puri of Gotham Greens. Aside from the difficulty of securing land on which to grow fresh produce, the quality of soil in most cities is usually unfit for agricultural purposes. Gotham Greens’ founders looked into growing on rooftops, which are plentiful in New York, but replenishing soil or soil substrate on top of buildings is cost-prohibitive and could structurally compromise some buildings. So Gotham Greens went with a rooftop hydroponic growing system that delivers nutrients to plants via recycled water.

“We employ a nutrient film technique that runs a stream of water just beneath the plant roots,” said Viraj Puri. “The water is recycled, so we use about a tenth of the water that conventional growers use and we can reach yields that are 20 times more than those from conventional crops.” Gotham Greens’ total climate system measures temperature, humidity, light levels and an array of other factors in order to create the perfect growing climate for their greens. The automated greenhouse then adjusts shades, vents and heaters to facilitate optimal plant growth 365 days out of the year. While heating a greenhouse during the cold New York winter uses more energy than a greenhouse in Mexico would ever need, Viraj Puri argues that their energy efficient system and the benefits of local produce outweigh the higher heating costs.

“We don’t have to transport our produce over long distances, so we save on transportation and we use fewer fossil fuels,” said Viraj Puri. “A lot of the design features of our facility and the renewable energy resources we have means we need about half the heating that other greenhouses in New York need.” Because they can pick their greens in the morning and have them in a supermarket later that afternoon also means their products is fresh, relative to greens shipped from Mexico. In fact, their second facility is located on the roof of Whole Foods Market’s flagship Brooklyn location, meaning that the product is only an elevator ride away from farm to shelf. Gotham Greens currently sells all of their produce within a 20 miles radius of their greenhouses where the entire growing process is sterile and insects are used as pest control, so there are no pesticide residues or contaminants to worry about. A longer shelf life and just a higher class of product attracts consumers and ensures repeat sales and premium prices.

“Our focus is on packaged salads and leafy greens that we can sell as a high-quality product and be competitive in retail stores,” said Viraj Puri. “It seems like there are more and more start-ups that are interested in vertical farms and completely indoor growing, so we want to focus on the product. You can only get attention so long for growing in the city, but the product has to stand on its own two feet. We don’t want to focus on trying to re-invent something or come up with a new business model; our goal is to focus on putting out a high-quality product.” Gotham Greens currently has two greenhouses in the New York area that provide their branded greens to retailers like Whole Foods Market, D’Agostino, Fresh Direct and Pea Pod as well as smaller neighborhood grocers. They plan on opening two more greenhouses in 2015, a 60,000 sq ft rooftop farm in Queens and a 75,000 sq ft  facility in Chicago, which is slated to be the world’s largest rooftop farm.

For more information:
Viraj Puri
Gotham Greens
Tel: +1 (646) 458-1747
[email protected]
www.gothamgreens.com

Publication date: 12/16/2014
Author: Sander Bruins Slot
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com

Rooftop greenhouse delivers fresh and low transport costs

Solution for open land in big cities
Rooftop greenhouse delivers fresh and low transport costs

The scarcity of open land in large cities would seem to be an insurmountable obstacle to building a profitable agricultural business in New York City, but Gotham Greens has managed to do just that. With a couple of hydroponic growing operations in the city, they provide high-quality, local greens to the residents of New York and the surrounding area.

“There is not a lot of space available in large cities, and any land that is available is probably more valuable to a real estate developer than to a grower,” explained Viraj Puri of Gotham Greens. Aside from the difficulty of securing land on which to grow fresh produce, the quality of soil in most cities is usually unfit for agricultural purposes. Gotham Greens’ founders looked into growing on rooftops, which are plentiful in New York, but replenishing soil or soil substrate on top of buildings is cost-prohibitive and could structurally compromise some buildings. So Gotham Greens went with a rooftop hydroponic growing system that delivers nutrients to plants via recycled water.

“We employ a nutrient film technique that runs a stream of water just beneath the plant roots,” said Viraj Puri. “The water is recycled, so we use about a tenth of the water that conventional growers use and we can reach yields that are 20 times more than those from conventional crops.” Gotham Greens’ total climate system measures temperature, humidity, light levels and an array of other factors in order to create the perfect growing climate for their greens. The automated greenhouse then adjusts shades, vents and heaters to facilitate optimal plant growth 365 days out of the year. While heating a greenhouse during the cold New York winter uses more energy than a greenhouse in Mexico would ever need, Viraj Puri argues that their energy efficient system and the benefits of local produce outweigh the higher heating costs.

“We don’t have to transport our produce over long distances, so we save on transportation and we use fewer fossil fuels,” said Viraj Puri. “A lot of the design features of our facility and the renewable energy resources we have means we need about half the heating that other greenhouses in New York need.” Because they can pick their greens in the morning and have them in a supermarket later that afternoon also means their products is fresh, relative to greens shipped from Mexico. In fact, their second facility is located on the roof of Whole Foods Market’s flagship Brooklyn location, meaning that the product is only an elevator ride away from farm to shelf. Gotham Greens currently sells all of their produce within a 20 miles radius of their greenhouses where the entire growing process is sterile and insects are used as pest control, so there are no pesticide residues or contaminants to worry about. A longer shelf life and just a higher class of product attracts consumers and ensures repeat sales and premium prices.

“Our focus is on packaged salads and leafy greens that we can sell as a high-quality product and be competitive in retail stores,” said Viraj Puri. “It seems like there are more and more start-ups that are interested in vertical farms and completely indoor growing, so we want to focus on the product. You can only get attention so long for growing in the city, but the product has to stand on its own two feet. We don’t want to focus on trying to re-invent something or come up with a new business model; our goal is to focus on putting out a high-quality product.” Gotham Greens currently has two greenhouses in the New York area that provide their branded greens to retailers like Whole Foods Market, D’Agostino, Fresh Direct and Pea Pod as well as smaller neighborhood grocers. They plan on opening two more greenhouses in 2015, a 60,000 sq ft rooftop farm in Queens and a 75,000 sq ft  facility in Chicago, which is slated to be the world’s largest rooftop farm.

For more information:
Viraj Puri
Gotham Greens
Tel: +1 (646) 458-1747
[email protected]
www.gothamgreens.com

Publication date: 12/16/2014
Author: Sander Bruins Slot
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com

Taxes, opening costs lead to Q4 earnings dip for Village

Village Super Market on Tuesday said sales were up slightly for the fourth quarter and fiscal year, but earnings for both periods were down due to an unfavorable tax ruling and on costs associated with replacement stores.

Village, which operates 29 ShopRite stores in three states, said sales for the quarter ended July 26 increased by 5.5% to $ 397 million, while same-store sales increased by 0.9%. Replacement stores in Morristown and Union, N.J., sparked the sales increase, the company said. Earnings totaled $ 5.9 million, a decrease of 5.4% from the same period a year ago. Excluding those items, earnings improved by 12% for the quarter.

Earnings were impacted by future lease obligations related to the closing of the Union store and pre-opening expenses related to its replacement, as well as an income tax increase resulting from an unfavorable ruling from the New Jersey Tax Court.


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For the fiscal year, earnings declined by 80.5% to $ 5 million, impacted by $ 11.6 million in increased taxes as well as various lease and preopening expenses. Excluding extraordinary items in fiscal 2014 and 2013, earnings were down by 17%, primarily due to flat same-store sales, higher operating expenses as a percentage of sales, and higher depreciation expense.

Sales for the fiscal year totaled $ 1.5 billion, an increase of 2.9%, with same-store sales increasing by 0.2%.

Village said it expected same-store sales in fiscal 2015 to range between flat and 2%.

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Boycott costs the EU 5 billion per year

Boycott costs the EU 5 billion per year

The EU proposed to supply additional funds for the promotion of boycotted products, which will have to be used to gain access to new markets. Statistics show that the boycott is costing the Union a total of 5 billion Euro per year. Spanish melon growers would also be eligible for the compensation and Czech growers are pleased with the increase in the country’s school budget for vegetables. Russian customs intercepted a considerable consignment of fruit and vegetables from Poland. The trucks had to turn around. In Kaliningrad, the market is slightly under pressure as import products become available; additionally, Russia continues to look to Asia as a supplier. India sees opportunities and wants to invest in a stronger relationship between both countries. 

Yesterday the NATO member countries met in Wales, with the crisis in Ukraine on the agenda. Regarding the cease-fire that Ukraine announced a couple of days ago, Putin says he is no party to the conflict, so he cannot agree to a cease-fire; however, he presented a seven-point plan that should lead to a solution and which is to be discussed between Ukraine and the separatists in Minsk. 

EU: Cost 5 billion, 30 million additional budget 

EU Commissioner for Agriculture, Dacian Ciolos, announced that the EU will supply 30 million Euro up front for promotional campaigns in response to the Russian boycott. The sum will be used to find alternative markets and can be increased to up to 60 million Euro. The money comes on top of the CAP budget of 60 million Euro for 2015, half of which is funded by the EU. Consequently, Ciolos affirms, up to 120 million Euro may be invested; 60 million from EU funds and another 60 million from private parties. 29% of the EU’s fruit and vegetable exports went to Russia, for cheese and butter that was 33% and 28% respectively. The money comes on top of the measures already announced and will be available in 2015.

Spanish melon prices down 55% 

Since the start of Russia’s boycott, export melon and watermelon prices have dropped sharply, between 40 and 55%; this is caused by the loss of the Russian market, as well as by oversupply. Overall fruit prices have dropped because of the boycott, and as a result consumers have access to a wide choice of cheap fruit. 

Recently, Proexport informed the Government about this situation. The organisation wants the Ministry to urge the European Commission to grant melon growers access to the compensations. The authorities in Murcia and a group of international organisations support the proposal. 

According to estimates by growers in Murcia, Spanish melon and watermelon exports in the last week of August reached 65,000 tonnes and 80,000 tonnes respectively. Proexport calculated a loss of 20.5 million for melon growers and 4.4 million for watermelons. The organisation does not understand why melon growers are not eligible for compensations, as they are clearly affected and the season is not over yet.

Spain is the EU’s largest melon exporter. In 2013, the country exported 410,537 tonnes of melons, 48% of which were shipped by Murcia. For watermelons, export volumes reached 542,243 tonnes, with Murcia’s produce accounting for 27% of the total. Based on these figures, Murcia is considered to be the most affected by the situation. 

Russian apple prices rise 

Since 2010, apple prices in Russia have steadily declined. In 2012, after the country joined the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the downward trend strengthened. In 2010-2011, the price stood at $ 1.43 per kilo; in 2013-21014, it dropped to 89 cents per kilo. The main reason for this was the WHO’s requirement to reduce taxes. Half of the apple imports came from Poland and the domestic production covered only 20% of the market, thus having a limited effect on prices. 

Due to the boycott of European and Moldovan apples, this downward trend has been broken and prices are expected to rise. How much they will increase will also depend on the volume of apples from Poland and Moldova which will manage to enter Russia through other countries. 

Russian frozen products 

According to BusinesStat, the volume of frozen products sold in Russia has increased by 36% between 2009-13. In 2013, sales reached 315,000 tonnes. For the coming years, up to 2018, an average annual growth of 5% is expected. Compared to 2013, this would entail a 25% increase in sales by 2018.

In 2009-13, the retail sector was responsible for 60.3% of these sales; the industry sold an average of 14.4% and the catering sector accounted for the remaining 25.3%. It remains to be seen whether these growth rates will be achieved. The frozen food market is largely dependent on imports; 74% in 2013. 

Russian retail was growing before the boycott 

The Russian retail in the Nizhny Novgorod region, east of Moscow, was growing before the boycott. In 2013, the retail sector in this region had a turnover of 202 billion Rouble ($ 4 billion) from foods; an increase of 8% compared to 2012.

Throughout Russia, the share of food sales by retailers is of 25.9%, with an increase of 8% over the year. In July 2014, retail chains accounted for 24.1% of total food sales, compared to 22.9% a year earlier. The largest chains in the region are X5, Spar and Seven. The boycott could change the market.

Mushrooms and limes considerably more expensive 

In the Rostov-on-Don region, in the south near the Black Sea, prices for some products have increased, including those of mushrooms, peaches, limes, kiwis, fish, turkey and cheese. Prices for mushrooms increased from 120 to 200 Rouble per kilo (from 2.40 to 4 Euro). Most mushrooms were imported from Poland.

For other products, prices in August remained stable, and for some seasonal products, such as potatoes, onions, carrots and apples, prices even dropped slightly, In general, food prices in the region have increased by 7.8% and the inflation over this period was 6%. 

Yakuti invests in production and storage 

In the Russian republic of Yakuti, a large province in the northeast, a five-year plan has been adopted for the agro-industry, which will lead to an expansion of the storage and processing facilities for local agricultural products. By 2018, the new facilities should be operational in all areas with an annual harvest of 2,000 tonnes of vegetables and potatoes.

India expanding trade relations with Russia 

The Indian ambassador in Russia said that Russia is seen as a major trading partner and that the country intends to invest in a long-term cooperation. According to the ambassador, trade between large countries should not be limited to a select group of products. Indian growers would like to export to Russia and the country has a lot to offer. As the demand for agricultural products in Russia increases, they see many opportunities for export. 

The biggest challenge lies in logistics, as goods must travel a distance of over 4,000 km. Both countries are investing in collaboration with a number of other international partners in the development of a new transport route. Additionally, India is interested in deepening economic cooperation with the customs union, and even a free trade area could be considered.

Chile supplying nuts and prunes 

According to Andres Rodriguez, representative of the Chilean walnuts and prunes organisations, there are only two obstacles for export: “the willingness of the Russians to pay international prices and the availability of the products.” Rodriguez added that Russia has always been an important market for Chilean plums, accounting for 15% of the exports. In the current situation, he expects demand from Russia to increase; however, prices are currently high and the Russian Rouble is weak. Regarding nuts, it is believed that the ban on American almonds will boost the export of Chilean nuts. 

Asia, main suppliers of fruit and vegetables for Russia? 

Russia aims to replace American and European food imports with products from South America and Asia. South-east Asian countries are particularly encouraged to export exotic gourmet and other food products to Russia. The Minister of Economic Development, Alexey Ulyukayev, made ​​this proposal to the ASEAN countries. According to Ulyukayev, the country needs especially fresh fruits and vegetables.

Alexey Kanevsky, President of the Committee of Economic Affairs in Moscow, believes that Asian fruit and vegetables have a very different taste to that Russians are accustomed to. At the moment, this Asian produce is still very focused on a specific part of the Russian market. Apples, oranges and bananas: no problem; but passion fruit and Indian jackfruit would entail problems to adapt for the majority of Russian consumers. It should be emphasised that Asian apples, pears, raisins, grapes and cherries could be easily sold in Russia. 

Russia-Georgia highway closed 

The Verkhny Lars mountain pass has suffered damages; as a result, the road will have to be closed for 10 to 12 days. The Armenian Minister of Agriculture, Sergo Karapetyan, reported on Friday, 22 August, that the incident would not hinder the export of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Czech growers welcome additional budget 

The European Commission has increased the budget for school fruit programmes in the Czech Republic from 5.2 million Euro last year to 6.1 million. The fruit is made ​​available to a large group of children from pre-school to elementary school. Czech producers affected by the Russian boycott see this as a positive development, as the Czech Republic can suffer losses of up to 50 million Euro.

Kaliningrad finds new suppliers 

Russia’s Kaliningrad region was hit hard by the boycott. The region is enclosed by Europe and therefore completely dependent on imports. After the news about rising prices and shortages, the first fruits and vegetables from Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Macedonia, Belarus, Serbia, Argentina and Costa Rica have arrived in the region. Besides this, the region relies on its own production and imports from the Russian regions of Rostov and Krasnodar.

Potatoes from Gurievsky, Russia, cost 11 Rouble (22 cents) per kilo; Belarusian tomatoes reach 30 Rouble (60 cents); aubergines from the Russian Volgograd cost 25 Rouble (50 cents) and peaches from Azerbaijan reach 65 Rouble (1.30 Euro). 

Russia intercepted Polish produce 

The Russian authorities intercepted a total of 93 tonnes of fruit and vegetables from Poland that the country was smuggling through Belarus. Eleven trucks, including apples, carrots, potatoes and plums, were intercepted on the Russian highways M-1 and M-13; the route Minsk-Moscow and Bryansk-Gomel, respectively. Poland was identified as the country of origin and the trucks had to return to Belarus.

Publication date: 9/5/2014
Author: Rudolf Mulderij
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


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Water costs skyrocket 1,000% in California

Water costs skyrocket 1,000% in California

It is not as if there aren’t any economic factors influencing the price of groceries these days. Transportation alone, thanks to skyrocketing fuel prices, has lifted the cost of everything we buy at the grocery store. Now, one of the worst droughts in U.S. history is making the one thing absolutely vital for food production — an ample water supply — more expensive as well, and that, ultimately, will translate into even higher prices at the market.

To set the stage, back in February the U.S. Bureau or Reclamation released its first outlook of the year, in which the agency found insufficient water stocks in California to release to farmers for irrigation. That was the first time in the 54-year history of the State Water Project that had happened.

“If it’s not there, it’s just not there,” said Water Authority Executive Director Steve Chedester, who noted that it would be tough finding water in the coming year or more. Farmers were to be hardest hit, the official added, stating, “They’re all on pins and needles trying to figure out how they’re going to get through this.”
‘Paying as Much as 10 Times More’

One way to deal with the drought is for farmers to plant fewer fields, which would mean that early on there would be fewer crops; in the law of supply and demand, when supply is reduced but demand remains high, prices rise.

The other option would be farmers being forced to pay premium prices for the remaining available water, which would also add to the final cost of crops — costs that would have to be passed on to consumers.

Fast-forward to late summer 2014: As the drought has only worsened over the summer, farmers in California’s Central Valley, which is by far the world’s most productive agricultural region, are paying as much as 10 times more for water than they did before the state’s record dry spell forced officials to cut water supplies earlier this year.

As reported by Bloomberg Briefs, costs to raise crops in California have soared to $ 1,100 an acre, or $ 140 more per acre than last year in the Fresno-based Westlands Water District, a region representing 700 farms, according to Gayle Holman, a spokeswoman for the district. Meanwhile, north of the state capital of Sacramento, in the Western Canal Water District, water is selling for double the usual price: $ 500 per acre-foot, which is about 326,000 gallons.

The most severe shortages have occurred in the San Joaquin Valley, in an area from Bakersfield to Patterson and Chowchilla, said Mike Wade, executive director of the California Farm Water Coalition, a group based in Sacramento that represents farmers and most agricultural irrigation districts in the state.
Whole States Are Running Dry

The drought, as it worsens, threatens also to dramatically increase production costs that are already high in part because of an unexpected, unseasonable December frost, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Last month, analysts said they believe that the price of fresh fruit will rise as much as 6 percent this year.

Meanwhile, dairy products — of which California is the largest producer — could rise as much as 4 percent. Following three years of record-low rainfall, 82 percent of California is currently undergoing extreme drought conditions, per the U.S. Drought Monitor, a federal website.

Mat Maucieri, a spokesman for the Bureau of Reclamation, said that the rising food prices are “a function of supply and demand in a very dry year and the fact that there are a lot of competing uses for water in California.”

As shown on the U.S. Drought Monitor website, the entire states of California, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico, along with most of Texas, Utah and Oregon, are experiencing various levels of drought conditions. California is, by far, experiencing the worst.

Source: www.theepochtimes.com

Publication date: 8/5/2014


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AU: Costs outstripping veg profit

AU: Costs outstripping veg profit

While Australian vegetable growers have seen improved crop yields, it’s not all good news as production costs become unmanageable for many growers, according to Ausveg.

“What we are witnessing is that Australian vegetable growers are striving for higher yields to help compensate for higher production costs,” said Ausveg economist, Shaun Muscat.

“Higher yields for some vegetables do not necessarily translate into greater returns and profitability for vegetable growers. For example, many smaller to medium sized vegetable growers made losses in 2012-13,” he said.

According to the data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), yields have increased in 2012-13 with tomatoes experiencing the largest yield improvements (45 per cent), followed by lettuce (30pc), capsicums (12pc), onions (6pc). Potatoes and carrots improved at similar rates (1pc) in 2012-13 when compared to the previous year.

“Whilst yields seem to have improved, growers are using their land more intensively, which also increases production costs for inputs such as fertiliser and energy, and therefore impacts overall profitability,” Mr Muscat said.

In 2012-13, hired labour is estimated to have been the largest production cost, followed by contracts paid for fertiliser, seed and fuel.

Electricity costs have almost doubled since 2005-06 for Australian vegetable growers, while hired labour and fertiliser costs have increased by 62pc and 68pc respectively.

“Australian vegetable growers are under continuous pressure to simultaneously improve yields and reduce costs of production in order to improve returns and remain viable. As a result, many growers are beginning to transition away from traditional methods of growing vegetables by introducing mechanised technologies to reduce labour costs.”

Australian vegetable growing businesses average cash income is estimated to have fallen to $ 103,000 per farm in 2012-13, according to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resources Economics and Sciences (ABARES).

This represents a 29pc decrease from 2005-06, and is 41pc lower than the five year average to 2012-13.

“Estimates suggest that average vegetable business profits have fallen from $ 60,200 in 2011-12 to a deficit of $ 10,000 in 2012-13.

“This is an approximate reduction in business profit of 117pc from the previous year,” Mr Muscat said.

Source: theland.com.au

 

Publication date: 6/4/2014


FreshPlaza.com

AU: Costs outstripping veg profit

AU: Costs outstripping veg profit

While Australian vegetable growers have seen improved crop yields, it’s not all good news as production costs become unmanageable for many growers, according to Ausveg.

“What we are witnessing is that Australian vegetable growers are striving for higher yields to help compensate for higher production costs,” said Ausveg economist, Shaun Muscat.

“Higher yields for some vegetables do not necessarily translate into greater returns and profitability for vegetable growers. For example, many smaller to medium sized vegetable growers made losses in 2012-13,” he said.

According to the data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), yields have increased in 2012-13 with tomatoes experiencing the largest yield improvements (45 per cent), followed by lettuce (30pc), capsicums (12pc), onions (6pc). Potatoes and carrots improved at similar rates (1pc) in 2012-13 when compared to the previous year.

“Whilst yields seem to have improved, growers are using their land more intensively, which also increases production costs for inputs such as fertiliser and energy, and therefore impacts overall profitability,” Mr Muscat said.

In 2012-13, hired labour is estimated to have been the largest production cost, followed by contracts paid for fertiliser, seed and fuel.

Electricity costs have almost doubled since 2005-06 for Australian vegetable growers, while hired labour and fertiliser costs have increased by 62pc and 68pc respectively.

“Australian vegetable growers are under continuous pressure to simultaneously improve yields and reduce costs of production in order to improve returns and remain viable. As a result, many growers are beginning to transition away from traditional methods of growing vegetables by introducing mechanised technologies to reduce labour costs.”

Australian vegetable growing businesses average cash income is estimated to have fallen to $ 103,000 per farm in 2012-13, according to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resources Economics and Sciences (ABARES).

This represents a 29pc decrease from 2005-06, and is 41pc lower than the five year average to 2012-13.

“Estimates suggest that average vegetable business profits have fallen from $ 60,200 in 2011-12 to a deficit of $ 10,000 in 2012-13.

“This is an approximate reduction in business profit of 117pc from the previous year,” Mr Muscat said.

Source: theland.com.au

 

Publication date: 6/4/2014


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