The Planti team has moved into a new headquarters. “Before the pandemic, there were 6 of us. Now 13 people need a desk and proper workspace,” says Michael Lee, director and co-owner of the company. Despite a decrease in projects in North America and Europe, the glass producer is still busy, as the Australian market steadily grows and the Chinese market picks up again. It’s remarkable that growers are trialling clear glass again.
Diffuse glass with AR coating
“A couple of years ago, most big growers chose diffused glass with an AR coating. Nowadays, we see a growing demand for clear glass, also with an AR coating”, points out Michael. “We’ve heard from our customers that this is trending now, and that’s because growers always want to try new things and new ways of growing. The majority still chooses diffuse glass, but several growers are looking to see if they can get more yield with clear light inside the greenhouse.”
Planti specializes in delivering more light to the horticultural industry, by offering growing light solutions and greenhouse glass. After a rapid growth, the market for Planti has stabilized over the last couple of months. “Last year the number of projects declined, especially in Europe and North America, but now the number of inquiries is high again, so we expect more projects will come online by the end of the year. Australia has been a stable market for us as well.”
China, on the contrary, is already picking up the pace again, Michael says. “During the pandemic, the market slowed down. Now we see many projects being restarted. On top of that, the government made it clear its intention to support horticultural projects initiated and supported by urban conglomerates. So, we’re very positive about the upcoming years.” During the IPM Shanghai tradeshow, which took place earlier this month, greenhouse companies, flower growers, and government representatives all showed confidence in the market. “In the upcoming five years, the government wants to offer more safely grown food to their citizens. To do so, they will build greenhouses close to big cities. Shanghai for example counts 20 million inhabitants. The government wants to ensure a safe food supply to these people, and they rely on government-initiated greenhouses to do so.”
Chinese growers mainly opt for diffuse glass, Michael sees. “Almost every project nowadays is being covered with diffuse material.” But there’s something else going on. “Due to the economic decline, we’ve seen companies previously active in supplying the building industry with glass, now entering the horticultural industry. The greenhouse market in general is a small industry and it’s interesting to see how companies enter the market with products that might sound innovative, but turn out to be not suitable for the greenhouse industry”, Michael says. “Sometimes, types of glass are being requested for trials that we havenever even heard of and can’t get our hands on, which later turns out to be an untested idea pitched to one of our customers.”
“We can provide growers with clear glass, with diffuse glass, and with various types of special glass, and our final goal is to provide growers with the best solution for their greenhouse,” he continues.
The Planti team is happy to welcome visitors again into their factory and of course to their newly opened headquarters. “Showing how we make different types of glass is really exciting”, Michael says. “As well as being able to welcome customers and guests to our new headquarter, which offers us more space and a better working atmosphere.” Over the last weeks, the team got used to the new facilities. “From the coffee machine to the dishwasher and the fire extinguisher, we found our way around,” Michael chuckles. On top of that, the new office also includes a gym, since a healthy employee is the best employee.
The team hoped to welcome their friends and customers during an opening earlier this year, but due to delays in the awarding of visas, it had to be postponed until later this year. “We look forward to meeting the greenhouse builders and growers in person again.”