Vertical-farming business Plenty Unlimited in the US has secured a new round of funding to support its growth.
The California-based firm has attracted US$140m in a Series D round from existing investor Softbank Ventures and new investor Driscoll’s, the fruit grower in the same state with which Plenty has just tied up a deal for strawberries cultivated using controlled environment technology.
Plenty, founded in 2014, said in a statement today (14 October) it has now raised more than $500m in financing and comes on the back of a recent agreement with US retailer Albertsons for the supply of fresh leafy greens.
The new funds will be used to develop a new indoor vertical farm in Compton, California, which is currently under construction. Plenty grows leafy greens at its farm and headquarters in South San Francisco, along with its R&D farm in Laramie, Wyoming.
Vertical, or indoor farming, is an alternative means to cultivate fresh produce without the need for soil or pesticides and requires less water than traditional methods. Vertically-farmed produce can also be grown closer to customer locations, ensuring freshness, with the advantage that crops can be cultivated all year round.
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Co-founder and CEO Matt Barnard said: “Plenty’s controlled and resilient farms and local distribution made it easy for us to scale quickly, even during the pandemic, demonstrating that our indoor, vertical farm flourishes under environmental pressures and delivers delicious greens along with the sales that come with it.
“The recent disruptions in the global supply chain caused by the West Coast wildfires and Covid-19 have highlighted how quickly our access to quality produce can be thwarted.”
Plenty claims it can produce up to 400 times the yield of traditional field farming and can “grow 1,500 acres in a building the size of a big box grocery store while saving over a million gallons of water per week”.
Jeff Housenbold, a managing partner at Softbank Investment Advisers, said: “In just 30 years time, the world will need 70% more food than we currently produce, requiring more efficient use of land and water. Without innovation in agriculture, this demand will be impossible to meet. We believe Plenty is transforming the way food is made and are pleased to continue supporting their mission to build sustainable, intelligent farms.”