Japan: Sharp Corp ventures into Middle East strawberries
Japanese multinational Sharp Corporation (TYO: 6753) has made forays into the horticultural industry as it seeks to capitalize on a strawberry production facility in the United Arab Emirates, where it will grow Japanese varieties with high sugar content.
The electronics designer and manufacturer has announced plans to commercialize the Dubai facility that was built in July on the property of its subsidiary Sharp Middle East Free Zone Establishment (SMEF).
"Favored for their high quality, Japanese strawberries are sold for high prices in overseas markets, such as in the Middle East. But because strawberries are perishable and quick to spoil, distributing them overseas has always been difficult," a Sharp release said.
"Cultivating fresh strawberries in a locally situated plant-growing facility should therefore enable local production and consumption without problems caused by location, weather, and temperature."
The fruit will be grown in a sealed environment under artificial LED light with Plasmacluster technology for managing air quality, along with Sharp equipment for monitoring room temperature and humidity.
"Using technology and know-how developed in the laboratory tests, Sharp aims to launch a plant factory engineering business in cooperation with local partners. The business will encompass a range of aspects, from factory design to the provision of monitoring and maintenance services," the release said.
The project's testing phase is scheduled to last until March, 2015 and is based on research into strawberry cultivation conducted jointly with Osaka Prefecture University.
The lab tests have been selected by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) as eligible for government subsidies this year.
Sharp is not the first Asian technology multinational to make moves in the fruit industry. Lenovo, through its subsidiary Joyvio, has moved into global fruit sourcing, as well as the production of blueberries and kiwifruit in China.