Retailers are facing increasing challenges as people demand healthier, locally-grown produce at an affordable price. These challenges forced them to invest in emerging technologies that could provide answers for most of these stakeholder requirements. One of these emerging technologies includes Vertical Farms. Since the start of the pandemic and the subsequent supply chain disruptions, large retail companies such as Walmart, Carrefour, Leclerc, Metro and others have been increasing their investment as the technology proves to be a savour, at least for some crops…
The Most Recent Move, Walmart Invests In US Startup Plenty
Walmart, the US largest retailer, decided to invest in vertical farm startup Plenty at the beginning of the year. The San-Francisco based vertical farm, founded in 2014, operates an indoor plant science research facility in Wyoming and will soon add another facility in California which, according to them, will be the world’s highest output vertical indoor farm. It is due to open in the second half of this year.
Their system includes vertical plant towers, LED lighting, robots to plant, feed and harvest crops. The company claims to use 1% of the land that an outdoor farm requires while delivering anywhere from 150 to 350 times more food per acre.
The retail giant stated that Plenty’s Compton farm will send leafy greens to Walmart’s California stores beginning later this year. It said the vertical farms will supplement, but won’t replace, traditional farming practices while increasing the food supply in a sustainable manner.
UK Online Retailer, Ocado, Invests In Jones Food Company
Jones Food Company and The Ocado Group’s relationship first began in 2019 when they first invested in the JFC1. The JFC1 grows and sells over two tonnes of fresh basil each week and is supplied into the supermarket grocery supply chain, delighting customers around the country. The new facility, considered by the vertical farm as the largest in Europe with over 55,000 sqft of growing space and 150 of annual growing capacity, has seen Ocado contributing £5m as part of a wider £25m raise.
Indoor Farming Leader, Infarm Partners With More Than 30 Global Retailers
Infarm was founded in Berlin in 2013 by Osnat Michaeli and the brothers Erez and Guy Galonska. Passionate to become self-sufficient and eat better, they were growing their own food, enjoying all the flavour and nutrients, without the chemical pesticides and transport kilometres. With the aim to share the goodness of self-grown produce with everyone, they developed a smart modular farming system that allows the distribution of vertical farms throughout the urban environment, growing fresh produce in practically any available space and fulfilling practically any market demand. Today, with cutting edge R&D, patented technologies and a leading multi-disciplinary team, Infarm is growing a worldwide farming network helping cities become self-sufficient in their food production, while significantly improving the safety, quality, and environmental footprint of our food.
With a multinational team of 1000 people globally, Infarm has partnered with more than 30 major food retailers including Aldi Süd, Amazon Fresh, Auchan, Carrefour, Casino, E.Leclerc, Edeka, Empire Company Ltd (Safeway, Sobeys, ThriftyFoods), Farmdrop, Intermarché, Irma, Kaufland, Kinokuniya, Kroger, Marks & Spencer, Metro, Migros, Selfridges, Selgros and Whole Foods Market in Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the United States and Switzerland, deployed more than 1300 farms in stores and Infarm Growing Centers, saved more than 16,000,000 gallons of water and 600,000 square feet of land, while harvesting 1,000,000+ plants monthly and growing.
Yasai, Switzerland’s First Fully Automated Vertical Farm, Launches Product At COOP
The three young Swiss entrepreneurs Mark E. Zahran, Stefano Augstburger, and Philipp Bosshard founded their start-up at the beginning of 2020. With Zahran as an architect, business expert Augstburger, and environmental engineer Bosshard, the founding team has an interdisciplinary set-up. YASAI AG makes vertical farming available as a service for companies and end consumers. It builds, operates, and markets vertical farms for its business partners. The technology is independent of local circumstances and can therefore be used worldwide for sustainable, future-oriented precision agriculture.
YASAI herbs are now available in around 80 Coop shops in north-western Switzerland. To start with, Coop is featuring YASAI basil, which can be found in 20g packs on the fresh food shelves. With its sophisticated cultivation method, the ETH spin-off produces more plants with fewer resources practically on the doorstep. This allows for sustainable production 365 days a year while maintaining consistently high quality.