April 4, 2013 Launch of production trial of solar plant factory in Victoria, Australia

Released by Mitsubishi Plastics Agri Dream Co., Ltd. and The KAITEKI Institute, Inc.

Mitsubishi Plastics Agri Dream Co., Ltd. (Head office: Tokyo; President: Katsutoshi Ogihara; “MPAD”), owned by Mitsubishi Plastics Co., Ltd., and The KAITEKI Institute, Inc.. (Head office: Tokyo; President: Kobayashi Yoshimitsu; “TKI”) in partnership with Agriculture Victoria Services Pty., Ltd. (“AVS”), an affiliate company of the Department of Primary Industry of the Victoria State Government in Australia (“DPI”),, have begun a production trial using MPAD’s solar powered plant factory. The trial started this spring and is set for a duration of one year, during which the plant factory will be used to grow leafy vegetables such as spinach at an agricultural experiment centre in Knoxfield, Victoria that is owned by the Department.

The greater part of the land in Australia is covered by desert, and frequent droughts and water shortage make agricultural production in this country even more challenging. Over the last two years, TKI and DPI have worked together to study water saving agricultural technology to find solutions to this problem. Through the collaboration, the Victoria State Government has found MPAD’s plant factory technology to have great potential to contribute to water-saving agriculture, and MPAD has found Australia to be an ideal base in the global deployment of its plant factory business, following the establishment of operations in Japan and China. With the joint study resulting in a positive assessment by both parties, MPAD, TKI, and AVS moved forward to sign a business agreement in November 2012 to jointly conduct a production trial, and had since been preparing for its launch.

For this trial, MPAD’s Nae-Terrace™ ※1 and Napper-Land™ ※2 have been installed in an area of the Knoxfield centre (around 150 sq.metre). Using the systems in conjunction for the production of spinach enables 20 harvests in one year, which is 5 times more than conventional production methods. The vegetables produced have a mild taste with low degree of bitterness, and can be enjoyed raw without need for washing. In this production trial, MPAD and TKI will conduct market research for future business development, and AVS will conduct the production itself as well as collection of data such as nutritional content of the harvested produce.

MPAD and TKI hope this current production trial will mark the beginning of active business expansion in Australia. The two companies aim to promote next generation agribusiness that can supply safe and high quality vegetables, and ultimately contribute to the realization of KAITEKI※3 advocated by the MCHC group. If the trial shows positive results, MPAD will move forward with examinations of new business models that go beyond the company’s coventional model of providing plant factory systems. One possibility is to work with a local partner to establish a joint company that will cover a broader range of business, from production and processing to marketing and sales.

※1 Closed production system with temperature control and automatic management of light and irrigation water used to grow healthy and consistent seedlings in a short period of time.
※2 Hydroponic production system for leaf vegetable
※3 A state of true sustainability that also represents comfort for people, society, and the earth, which is promoted by the MCHC Group as the ultimate value corporate activities should seek for in the 21st century.

【photo: Knoxfield Agricultural Experiment Station】

【photo: Napper-Land ™ hydroponic production system for leaf vegetables】

【Company overview】

・Mitsubishi Plastics Agri Dream Co., Ltd.

  Head office : 1-2-2 Nihonbashi Hongokucho, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, Japan
  President : Katsutoshi Ogihara
  Established : July 1, 2009
  Capital : 300million yen (100% Mitsubishi Plastics Inc., Ltd.)
  Line of business : production and sales of high quality agricultural materials, such as agricultural films, hydroponics, irrigation systems, and support for greenhouse farmers

・The KAITEKI Institute, Inc.

  Head office : Palace Building, 1-1, Marunouchi 1-chome, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan
  President : Yoshimitsu Kobayashi
  Established : April 1, 2009
  Capital : 10,000,000 yen
  Line of business : Research and investigation into social trends in the future, research and development for new enterprises, and operation and management of contract research
[Media contact]
Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corporation
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TEL: +81-3-6748-7140