US Market Validation
Business, Bureaucracy and Beekeeping

Our CEO Pascal Brunner is currently in California to explore the US market for Vatorex. The apiculture industry in the USA is unique and interesting at the same time, since it is mainly driven by migratory beekeeping and pollination services.

The US beekeeping industry

There are 2.7 million hives in the United States of America, and the large portion (around 80%) of them are kept commercially. The industry is driven by paid pollination, mainly through the high demand for Almond pollination, but also Apples, Blueberries, Cranberries and other crops, fruits and vegetables contribute to the income of migratory beekeepers.

The year starts with the Almond season (Feb-Mar), when each year, 2 million hives are placed in orchards all over California. Coming out of the almonds, hives are split and further rented out for pollination, or used for honey production throughout the year. Overwintering often takes place in North or South Dakota.

The yearly losses are devastating, reaching an overall value of 48% wiped out colonies for the season 2022-2023. Most of the losses derive over winter, which has a dramatic financial impact on the profitability of commercial operations. Beekeepers invest between 205-223 USD per colony for a full season (2019 data, costs might have increased since). It is undoubtedly the Varroa mite that ranks highest on the problem hitlist, especially with the growing viral load that the mites carry. Other stressors are American Foulbrood (AFB) or lack of foraging possibilities. Furthermore, with the Tropi mite there is the next problem on the horizon, with yet unknown likeliness & impact on the industry.

The Market Validation Camp

In a 2-weeks bootcamp, supported by Swissnex and Innosuisse, Pascal had the chance to deepdive into the US startup ecosystem in San Francisco, California. In a peer group among some other of the most promising Swiss early-stage startups, the full US startup 101 was covered. Sessions ranked from bureaucratic matters such as legal topics or company incorporation to internatinalization support to sales & investor mindset.

A highlight of the camp was the pitch night, where the 5 startups shared the stage and had 3 minutes time to win a jury of investors and the audience. Sneak peak: Vatorex made the race!

Beekeeping Visits and Industry Leaders

After the camp, and still ongoing, Pascal met with various industry leaders and beekeepers to learn more about the US market. These talks and discussions are super insightful and contribute a lot to the development and successful deployment of our heat treatment against Varroa. We would like to take the opportunity and thank all participating people - you rock!

Next up on Vatorex' agenda is the deployment of 360 hives in Alberta, Canada, that have been produced and assembled in March. The season has now started and it's getting busier and busier every day. We are all looking forward to a successful 2024 season!

US Market Validation
Vatorex AG, Pascal Brunner 30 April, 2024
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Year in review
Farewell 2023