Indoor farming operations are expanding rapidly to meet and capitalize on increased consumer demand for fresh, locally grown fruits, vegetables and herbs. Keep in mind that expansion in this market comes in multiple forms, not just from adding on a new greenhouse range or vertical farming canopy square footage. It can also mean expanding production capacity by adding new technologies like LEDs or environmental controllers that enable a grower to produce more today with less inputs than yesterday, or the addition of a new crop to the mix.
Or, a vertical farming operation could expand it’s reach or product lineup by the mergers and acquisitions route, as we witnessed recently when grower-shipper Tanimura & Antle took ownership of the Boston-based Green City Growers.
To help you stay up to date on all the recent movement in the industry, here’s a quick roundup of some of the latest expansion developments in the indoor CEA produce market.— Matthew J. Grassi
Gotham Greens building facility in California, partnering with UC Davis
New York's Gotham Greens — the subject of our April Produce Grower cover story — recently announced a West Coast expansion and partnership.
A 10-acre facility, including a new production greenhouse, will be located in Solano County, California, and is expected to open this year, per a press release from the company. “We are proud to bring Gotham Greens to the West Coast and partner with one of the highest-ranked agricultural research centers in the world to advance the entire agriculture system,” said Viraj Puri, co-founder and CEO of Gotham Greens, per the release. “California is responsible for growing one-third of the country’s vegetables and two-thirds of the nation’s fruits, yet in recent years, issues surrounding drought, food safety and worker welfare have demonstrated the need for continued innovation. Gotham Greens offers consumers clean, safe and sustainably-grown leafy greens, herbs and versatile, time-saving plant-based dressings, dips and cooking sauces.”
The location near UC Davis also comes with a new partnership between the university and Gotham Greens.
Living Greens Farm expands retail presence, product reach
Living Greens Farm (LGF), a vertical, indoor aeroponic farm in the U.S. that provides year-round fresh salads, salad kits, microgreens and herbs, announced the addition of new retail distribution of its products in the upper Midwest to independent, specialty, and co-op retailers.
Starting February 2021, LGF’s full line of products featuring ready-to-eat bagged salad products (Caesar Salad Kit, Southwest Salad Kit, Harvest Salad Kit, Chopped Romaine and Chopped Butter Lettuce) are being carried by UNFI Produce Prescott (formerly Alberts Fresh Produce). UNFI Produce Prescott is a division of UNFI, which distributes food products to thousands of stores nationwide. Their focus is on independent, specialty and co-op retailers.
UNFI has eight warehouses nationwide. LGF’s products will be carried by their upper Midwest location. This distribution center services hundreds of retailers throughout Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, North Dakota, South Dakota, Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska.
Red Sun Farms to add 35 acres of growing space in 2021
Red Sun Farms, a greenhouse grower with locations in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, announced that it is in the process of adding 35 acres of growing space for the 2021 winter grower season.
This new addition comes on the heels of a 63.8 acre, three-phase projected in Kingsville, Ontario, that was completed in 2020. Red Sun’s Mexico branch also completed a 25-acre expansion last year.
“The Red Sun Farms team continues to build its business on sustainable growth across Mexico, USA and Canada. This announcement supports our commitment to deliver the very best produce to our customers throughout the year,” states Carlos Visconti, CEO of Red Sun Farms Canada & the USA.
Red Sun now has 476 acres of growing space in Mexico and 211 in Canada. In the U.S., Red Sun has already announced plans to expand its distribution center in Pharr, Texas, increasing the facility’s size to 106,000 square feet. Kingsville will also add 22,500 square feet of cold storage in 2021, pushing its total to 62,500 square feet.
Shenandoah Growers launching living potted herbs program in April
According to a press release, ‘That’s Tasty’, a Shenandoah Growers brand, will begin rolling out a living potted herbs program beginning in April 2021.
“Quality and freshness are critical to this product line,” says Steven Wright, Chief Customer Officer, “so we have committed our resources to ensure we harvest, pack and deliver the plants within 24 hours. That’s as fresh as you can get.”
Shenandoah Growers sells USDA-certified living organic herbs including basil, mint, cilantro, parsley, rosemary, thyme, and other popular varieties in addition to fresh-cut herbs and stir-in purées.
GoodLeaf Farms expands product reach in 2021
In a press release, Ontario-based GoodLeaf Farms has announced that its leafy greens will now be sold at Longo’s and Whole Foods Market stores across Ontario.
“It’s exciting for us to make more Ontario-grown food available to Ontario consumers through Loblaw Companies, Longo’s and Whole Foods Market stores,” says Jacquie Needham, account manager for GoodLeaf Farms. “Local food is fresher, packed with nutrients and tastes better.”
Tanimura & Antle picks up Green City Growers
Employee-owned grower-shipper, Tanimura & Antle announced today the acquisition of Boston, Massachusetts, based Green City Growers, according to a press release.
The merger of the two companies is based on a common commitment and passion to provide communities, organizations and individuals with a hands-on educational experience to increase awareness, build engagement and provide education about where food comes from.
Green City Growers are perhaps most notable for stewarding New England’s largest roof top farm on top of Whole Foods Market in Lynnfield, Massachusetts, and maintaining the rooftop farm at Fenway Park since 2015.