McCain Foods has become the largest shareholder in TruLeaf Sustainable Agriculture and its wholly owned subsidiary GoodLeaf Farms, which the French fry giant describes as “Canada’s largest commercial vertical farming operation”.

Three years on from McCain’s first investment in Truleaf, the frozen-food group has moved again to back the business and has now ploughed more than CAD65m (US$51.9m) into the firm, which runs a 45,000 square foot facility in Guelph, Ontario.

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Peter Dawe, McCain’s chief growth and strategy officer, said the company wanted to help “scale up of this Canadian start up that lives at the intersection of food, agriculture and technology”. He added: “GoodLeaf’s vertical farm technology creates spring and summer growing conditions in Canada year-round, growing local, fresh, healthy and tasty leafy greens instead of being trucked long distances into Canada.”

The vertical farmer grows five microgreens and three baby greens for the domestic market. It is planning to set up to more farms by the end of the year to serve retail and foodservice customers in the east and west of Canada. Current retail customers include Loblaws and Whole Foods Market.

Barry Murchie, Goodleaf’s CEO, said: “”We want to be a global leader in vertical farming. Our first step to accomplishing that is ensuring we have a strong footprint in Canada, giving Canadians access to top quality, nutrient-dense, sustainably grown and pesticide-free leafy greens 365 days a year.”

just-food analysis, December 2020: What are the prospects for vertical farming in Europe?