Amazon's Jeff Bezos Invests in Vertical Produce Farming Company Plenty
SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, CA - A new investment by Jeff Bezos has the man behind the Amazon Whole Foods buyout getting into the fresh produce business, according to a report from Business Insider. Bezos reportedly has taken his place alongside the likes of Eric Schmidt of Alphabet, SoftBank Vision, and DCM Ventures to get in on the ground floor of Bay Area-based vertical farming startup, Plenty.
With the new investors signing on, Plenty announced it will now open a 100,000-square-foot farm in Kent, Washington, where the startup hopes to grow pesticide-free, “backyard quality,” fresh fruits and vegetables for consumers in the Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., areas. This second farm marks the first occasion Plenty will grow beyond its home in South San Francisco.
Business Insider reports that Plenty’s new farm will grow 4.5 million pounds of greens annually, which, according to the USDA, is enough to feed around 183,600 Americans. Set to come online in spring 2018, Plenty’s twist on the classic produce farm means that all of its crops will grow on glowing, LED-lit, 20-foot-tall towers, taking all soil, pesticides, and even natural sunlight out of the growing equation. Those of us in the biz know this is called indoor vertical farming, and allows for a climate-controlled, year-round growing option.
In Seattle, Plenty has said it will begin growing leafy greens and herbs first, but will later expand to fruits, such as strawberries, tomatoes, and watermelons. CEO and Co-Founder Matt Barnard told Business Insider the company will begin selling in 2018 under it’s newly achieved organic certification, and may be even looking at delivery as one option for distribution.
“Seattle’s emphasis on delicious, healthy food and energy and water efficiency makes the area a natural fit for our next Plenty farm,” said Barnard in a press release. “At nearly 100,000 square feet, Seattle will be home to our first full scale farm and help set the standard by which our global farm network makes locally-grown, backyard-quality produce accessible to everyone. We’re excited about what’s next and look forward to building the Seattle team.”
To date, after Bezos’ contribution, Plenty has raised $226 million, which Barnard said will help the company fund new farms around the world in order to drive down prices and costs.
Will the Amazon leader move further into fresh produce investments as he seems to be keeping a watchful eye on the food industry? AndNowUKnow will keep you apprised with the latest.