Pure, real and fresh wasabi
The spark came in 2015 when we were two engineering students thinking of a new export
product—utilizing the vast resources in Iceland. Our company, Jurt Hydroponics, captures the clean
water, pure air, geothermal energy, and hydroelectric power of Iceland into a new niece product.
The world is facing great challenges in food production, and water is one of the biggest players. Having the most freshwater resources per capita in the world, we look at it as our duty to make it possible for others to enjoy. We figured that the easiest way to do so was to grow water-intensive crops here and export them to foreign markets.
Also, traceability in food production is a problem, and we were shocked to find out that almost all, or at least 95% of wasabi in the world, is fake. That fake wasabi, presented to all in general as the “real deal” is a mix of horseradish, mustard and green food coloring. Hence it is not a common knowledge that wasabi is a fresh vegetable, not something green out of a tube. These two factors have driven us to specialize in environmentally friendly and sustainable food production by producing quality hard-to-grow plants using advanced technologies and sustainable resources in Iceland. We had our first harvest of Nordic Wasabi in 2017 and have since then sold our product to many of the world’s best restaurants, as well as to enthusiastic foodies worldwide via our online store.
Jurt Hydroponics is an Icelandic company that was established to farm quality hard to grow plants using advanced technologies and sustainable resources. We specialize in ecological food production using greenhouse hydroponics and only use organic growing mediums. We have signed on to the Nordic Food Manifesto and place an emphasis on purity, freshness and simplicity. Notorious as the “world’s most difficult plant to grow”—and the most expensive vegetable, by weight—wasabi grows naturally in the river beds of Japan. Jurt is growing wasabi using hydroponics, in the spirit of the Japanese water growing tradition of sawa, an intensive and laborious process. The wasabi plants not only like the northern freshwater, they also prefer colder climates, which luckily is not
a problem for us in Iceland. Our production is in greenhouses in the East of Iceland, located in the small town of Egilsstaðir. We use advanced technologies, and the production is mostly automated, controlled from computer or phone wherever we are in the world. Only the harvest is done by hand. The wasabi plants take 24-36 months to mature Fresh wasabi is a unique produce that is hard to come by in the Western world. We have managed to grow the wasabi plant and deliver the highest quality wasabi to chefs around Europe and the USA. We stand out on the market by being able to deliver freshly harvested wasabi within 48 hours from harvest to our markets. Fresh wasabi is a unique stem that is widely used in high- end Japanese cuisine, fusion cuisine, and Nordic cuisine. It has a fruity, vegetal fragrance and a spiciness that enhances flavor. Fresh wasabi is traditionally served with noodles and sushi. People use more wasabi with oily fish and less with leaner
fish. In recent years, chefs experimenting with fusion cuisine are finding new uses for it.
The company was founded by Ragnar Atli Tómasson and Johan Sindri Hansen in 2015. Ragnar is the CEO and runs the company alongside Óli Hall, The Sales- and Marketing director. Then we have Erla, our horticulturist at our greenhouses. It has been a great challenge to make a completely new product. We have had to achieve a stable production and deal with issues that come along with paving the way in exporting vegetables from Iceland, as we are the first company to do so. We have also had to educate our customers about the product as it is something completely new to most people. By now, Nordic Wasabi is already recognized amongst chefs in Iceland and Europe as a high-end product that stands for quality and purity as Icelandic produce. Nordic Wasabi has been a featured item on the menus of many of Europe’s best restaurants, including Michelin starred ones. The company has also substantially grown its customer base in the past year by introducing an online store, focusing on individual food concierges.
We feel like our company perfectly captures the entrepreneurial spirit and at the same time, we’re
working towards a better future in vegetable farming by only using sustainable growing methods. As our company grows and we set an example as a sustainable agriculture company focusing on export, we hope to inspire other like-minded entrepreneurs on their journey.