Icelandic company Geogreenhouse is planning to start exporting tomatoes to the UK. According to schedule, the first delivery could be made in September next year, which would make it the first Icelandic company to export vegetables.
A greenhouse in Iceland. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
Geogreenhouse has already made an agreement with a British company on the marketing, wrapping and distribution of the tomatoes, which might be available at retailing giant Marks & Spencer, among other stores. The tomatoes will be exported by ship to Immingham, Fréttabladid reports.
The tomatoes will be grown in special high-tech greenhouses which will be built in three stages. After the final stage has been completed, 150 people could be employed by the company. Construction is scheduled to begin next spring.
The first stage plans include a 3.3 hectare greenhouse where 35 people could work. Two years later it is to be extended to ten hectares with the number of employees increasing to almost 100 people.
It hasn’t been decided when the final stage will be built, but once completed, the greenhouse will be 20 hectares in size and employ 150 people.
Sigurdur Kiernan, chairman of Geogreenhouse, said they are working on reaching an agreement with an energy company. The greenhouse will be placed by a geothermal power plant but he wouldn’t specify a potential location.
However, according to Fréttabladid’s sources, the possibility of building the greenhouse on Reykjanes peninsula in southwest Iceland has been discussed with local authorities.
Kiernan believes Geogreenhouse’s tomatoes will have several advantages above other tomatoes. “We have the advantage of using the best water in the world for our cultivation here in Iceland,” he said.
“We also don’t use pesticides as are used in most foreign locations which gives the product a certain stamp of quality; it is also environmentally-friendly because we won’t be burning gas to heat up the greenhouses but use geothermal energy,” Kiernan added.
The geothermal power plant by which the greenhouse will be based will provide warm water, electricity, water for watering the plants and carbon dioxide which will be used for enhancing growth.
In a so-called adjustment agreement from 2002, Icelandic producers were given permission to export vegetables.
According to Bjarni Jónsson, managing director of the Icelandic Association of Horticulture Producers, no one has taken full advantage of that agreement yet.
“There has in fact been an experimental export of yellow turnips and potatoes to the Faroe Islands but otherwise no one has launched exports to any significant extent,” he said.
Icelanders use their geothermal energy for many different purposes; recently it was reported that an age-old method for salt production had been brought back by a company in the West Fjords.
Meanwhile, Landsvirkjun, the national power company, is drilling in a geothermal area in northeast Iceland to provide energy for a large-scale industry project near Húsavík.