To Rebuild Company, Sharp Turns to ... Strawberries

Will grow the fruit indoors in Dubai, sell it to rich Middle Easterners

By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 23, 2013 3:56 PM CDT

(Newser) – Remember Sharp? Perhaps you owned one of the Japanese company's TVs many years ago. Perhaps you still do—though that's less likely, given, as Reuters reports, the company had to get bailed out by banks last year after posting a $5.5 billion loss. So to address its flagging fortunes, Sharp is planning to start selling a surprising new product: strawberries. Known for being extra sweet, strawberries grown in Japan are a popular snack amongst the Middle Eastern elite, reports the Asahi Shimbun. But shipping the fruit there is a pain, because it's a long way to travel and the strawberries spoil easily.

So Sharp is building an indoors facility in Dubai where it can cultivate strawberries from Japanese seeds, utilizing a high-tech set-up to regulate light, temperature, and air quality. The factories will be unmanned, with Sharp controlling the operation remotely from Japan. The company is now trialing the idea in a test facility, with the aim of growing 3,000 strawberries a month, reports the BBC. If that works, it will scale up to a factory operation in 2015. "If we can generate results in cultivating strawberries, a plant that is difficult to grow, we can apply the technology to other farm products," says a company official.

  (Shutterstock)
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