Emirates gets together with Crop One to create ECO1’s Bustanica, the world’s largest indoor vertical farm, based in Dubai UAE

August 1, 2022

Emirates is one of the world’s largest airlines, operating over 3,600 flights per week from its hub in Dubai, UAE. It operates to more than 150 cities in 80 countries across 6 continents through its fleet of nearly 300 aircraft. “Be good to yourself and fly Emirates” says its tagline, and the inflight experience is certainly one of the best in the world.

Emirates Flight Catering is one of the world’s largest catering operations. Not just serving its parent company, Emirates, it is also a catering partner of over 100 airline customers, hospitality groups and UAE government entities. Each day, the catering company’s 11,000 employees prepare an average of 200,000 meals.

The challenge however, is to source a huge amount of fresh food, while in the middle of the Arabian desert.

Indoor, vertical farming emerged as the answer, and in 2022, the catering business got together with Crop One, an industry leader in technology-driven vertical farming. Together they created Emirates Crop One (ECO 1), the world’s largest vertical farm.

Located in Dubai, near Al Maktoum International Airport, the  330,000-square-foot facility, which spans 175 yards in length, will produce over 2 million pounds of high-quality leafy greens each year.

“We are proud to bring Crop One’s best-in-class technology to this innovative food production facility alongside our joint venture partner. ECO 1 will address growing supply chain challenges and food security issues, while introducing millions of new consumers to the benefits of vertically farmed produce,” said Craig Ratajczyk, Chief Executive Officer at Crop One.

“It’s our mission to cultivate a sustainable future to meet global demand for fresh, local food, and this new farm is the manifestation of that commitment. This new facility serves as a model for what’s possible around the globe.”

The hydroponic facility is designed for continuous output of leafy green crops that are exceedingly clean and require no pre-washing, always grown without pesticides, herbicides or chemicals.

Powered by Crop One’s Plants-First™ technology and infrastructure, the farm utilizes machine learning, artificial intelligence and data analytics, and is managed by a specialized in-house team of engineers, computer and plant scientists.

ECO 1 uses 95% less water than field-grown produce while guaranteeing an output of three tons per day.

Passengers on Emirates and other airlines can enjoy the lettuces, arugula, mixed salad greens, and spinach, onboard. Local UAE consumers can also find the produce on store shelves under the Bustanica brand.

ECO 1 is Crop One’s second farm, following its Millis headquarters, near Boston USA, which was launched in 2015.

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