Is Vertical Farming the Future?
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Is Vertical Farming the Future?

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The following content is sponsored by Global X ETFs.

 

Is vertical farming the future infographic

Global X KROP ETF

The Briefing

  • Land degradation is a long-term sustainability risk
  • Vertical farms can grow food indoors with less land and water than traditional methods

Is Vertical Farming the Future?

According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), half of the Earth’s topsoil has been lost over the past 150 years. This issue is known as land degradation, and it’s caused by natural and human forces such as droughts, overfarming, and pollution.

In this graphic sponsored by Global X ETFs, we’ve illustrated an innovative solution to land degradation known as vertical farming.

Advantages of Vertical Farming

Vertical farming is best defined as growing food indoors and on vertically stacked layers. It utilizes technologies known as controlled environment agriculture (CEA):

  • Aeroponics: Plants are suspended in the air and sprayed with nutrient-rich solvents
  • Hydroponics: Plants are cultivated in a nutrient-rich water-based solution
  • Aquaponics: Plants are cultivated in an ecosystem which also houses fish

Vertical farms can grow 1 ton of lettuce with just 17% of the space needed for a traditional farm, meaning they are much more space efficient. This is a direct solution for land degradation, but the benefits don’t end there.

Farming in a controlled environment cuts down on chemical usage because there is no longer a need for pesticides. A recent U.S. study found that in 71% of usage cases, pesticides have contaminated soil and reduced biodiversity.

Furthermore, vertical farms can reduce water use by up to 90% thanks to recirculation. This is a massive improvement when considering that traditional farms account for 70% of global water consumption.

What’s the Trade-off?

Like most things in life, vertical farms also have their drawbacks.

The first challenge is high energy consumption due to the lack of natural sunlight and water. Both of these inputs must be provided by using electricity, which may not be ideal depending on location. The second challenge is costs, not just because of energy consumption, but also due to the equipment needed for CEA systems.

The table below compares a traditional outdoor farm with a theoretical vertical farm. These estimates illustrate a clear trade-off between i) greater output and less water usage; and ii) a larger carbon footprint.

MetricTraditional Outdoor FarmVertical FarmPercentage Difference
Lettuce output per 1 acre16 tons126 tons+787%
Kg CO₂ emitted per ton of lettuce160 kg540 kg+337%
KL of water used per ton of lettuce118 kL6 kL-95%

Traditional farm yields are based on the U.S. 2020 average. Source: Global X ETFs

With global population expected to reach 10 billion people by 2060, more efficient methods of farming are needed. Vertical farms, alongside other innovations in agriculture and food, could be the answer.

Where does this data come from?

Source: Global X ETFs, WWF

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Ranked: These Are 10 of the World’s Least Affordable Housing Markets

An analysis of 90+ major cities reveals which ones are the least affordable housing markets based on their price-to-income ratio.

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The Briefing

  • For the 12th year in a row, Hong Kong is the world’s least affordable housing market, according to Demographia’s ranking of 92 cities in select countries
  • Sydney, Australia moves up one spot from last year’s ranking to take second place

These Are 10 of the World’s Least Affordable Housing Markets

It’s become increasingly difficult for middle-class families to purchase a home over the last few years—and the global pandemic has only made things worse.

According to Demographia’s 2022 Housing Affordability Report, the number of housing markets around the world deemed “severely unaffordable” increased by 60% compared to 2019 (prior to the pandemic).

This graphic looks at some of the least affordable housing markets across the globe, relative to median household income. The report covers 92 different cities in eight nations: Australia, Canada, China, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The Least Affordable Housing Markets

Before diving in, it’s worth outlining the methodology used in this report, to help explain what’s classified as a severely unaffordable housing market.

To calculate affordability, a city’s median housing price and divided by its median household income. From there, a city is given a score:

  • A score of 5.1 or above is considered severely unaffordable
  • 4.1 to 5.0 is considered seriously unaffordable
  • 3.1 to 4.0 is considered moderately unaffordable

All the cities on this graphic are classified as severely unaffordable⁠—and, for the 12th year in a row, Hong Kong takes the top spot as the world’s most unaffordable housing market, with a score of 23.2.

Housing MarketNationScore
Hong Kong🇭🇰​ Hong Kong (SAR)23.2
Sydney, NSW🇦🇺​ Australia15.3
Vancouver, BC🇨🇦​ Canada13.3
San Jose, CA🇺🇸​ U.S.12.6
Melbourne, VIC🇦🇺​ Australia12.1
Honolulu, HI🇺🇸​ U.S.12.0
San Francisco, CA🇺🇸​ U.S.11.8
Auckland, AUK🇳🇿​ New Zealand11.2
Los Angeles, CA🇺🇸​ U.S.10.7
Toronto, ON🇨🇦​ Canada10.5

One reason for Hong Kong’s steep housing costs is its lack of supply, partly due to its lack of residential zoning—which only accounts for 7% of the region’s zoned land. For context, 75% of New York City’s land area is dedicated to residential housing.

Sydney moved up one spot this year, making it the second most expensive city to purchase a home on the list, with a score of 15.3. Besides Hong Kong, no other city has scored this high in the last 18 years this report has been released.

There are several theories for Sydney’s soaring housing rates, but industry expert Tom Forrest, CEO of Urban Taskforce Australia, boils it down to one fundamental issue in an interview with Australia Broker—supply isn’t keeping up with demand:

“Housing supply has been consistently not meeting demand in the Greater Sydney and across regional New South Wales…if you have supply consistently not meeting demand then the price will go up. That’s what happened and we’re seeing it in abundance.”Tom Forrest, CEO of Urban Taskforce Australia

The COVID-19 Impact

Middle-income earners were already feeling the squeeze prior to the global pandemic, but COVID-19 only exacerbated housing affordability issues.

As people began to work from home, high-income earners started to look for more spacious housing that wasn’t necessarily in the city center, driving up demand in suburban areas that were relatively affordable prior to the pandemic.

At the same time, supply chain issues and material costs impacted construction, which created a perfect storm that ultimately drove housing prices up.

But with interest rates rising and COVID-19 restrictions easing around the world, some experts are predicting a market cool down this year—at least in some parts of the world.

>>Like this? Then you might like this article: How Much Prime Real Estate Could You Buy for $1M?

Where does this data come from?

Source: Demographia
Details: The affordability score is calculated by taking a city’s median housing price and dividing it by the median household income. Anything over 5.1 is considered severely unaffordable
Notes: Data includes 92 metropolitan markets across eight countries; Australia, Canada, Ireland, Singapore, China, New Zealand, the U.K., and the U.S., as of the third quarter of 2021. Many European countries, along wth Japan, we excluded from the dataset, because information on median income was not readily available.

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Poll: Inflation is the Top Financial Concern for Americans

Many Americans are feeling the sting of inflation as everyday items like food and fuel have seen big price increases.

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The Briefing

  • Inflation has quickly become the top financial concern for American families
  • Compared to 2021, far fewer Americans believe their financial situation is improving

Poll: Inflation is the Top Financial Concern for Americans

A recent survey by Gallup discovered that inflation has become the top financial concern for Americans, surpassing other issues like low wages and housing costs.

While this result may not be too surprising, it is interesting to see how today’s concerns compare to that of previous years. For reference, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) has grown 8.3% between April 2021 and April 2022, representing a near 40-year high.

Poll Results

Results were collected in April 2022 and are based on the responses of over 1,000 U.S. adults. In this case, the specific question was: What is the most important financial problem facing your family today?

TrendApril 2022April 2021April 2020April 2019
Inflation32%8%3%6%
Low wages11%10%11%11%
Gas prices10%1%----
Housing costs8%9%9%8%
Health care costs7%8%8%17%

Percentage of respondents. Includes the top five categories, based on April 2022 results.

Based on these results, we can see that inflation began to gain momentum in early 2021. Rising gas prices, which are a significant contributor to overall inflation, also popped up in 2021.

Implications

Significantly fewer Americans feel confident about their financial situation due to the rising cost of living. This was captured in the same Gallup survey referenced above.

Income Group20222021Percentage point decrease
Upper 50%28%-22
Middle48%39%-9
Lower63%45%-18

Percentage of respondents who say their personal financial situation is improving.

The largest decreases were seen among the upper and lower income groups.

Upper income families tend to own more financial assets like stocks and bonds. An inflationary environment, especially when combined with rising interest rates, can eat away at the returns generated by these assets, which could explain this cohort’s drop in optimism.

Lower income families, on the other hand, are more likely to be struggling already. In fact, a 2017 report found that six in 10 Americans don’t have $500 in savings. With this in mind, it’s easy to see how an increase in the price of food or gas could cause worry.

Where does this data come from?
Source: Gallup
Notes: Interviews conducted April 1-19, 2022, with a random sample of 1,018 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

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