Ocado Forms $22 Million Vertical Farming Joint Venture
HATFIELD, UNITED KINGDOM - Online retailer and Kroger partner Ocado Group is jumping in on the emerging vertical farming industry, announcing its recently-purchased 58 percent stake in Jones Foods Co., Europe’s largest operating vertical farm. Ocado has also set plans in motion to help set up a company called Infinite Acres that will design infrastructure for the eco-friendly vertical farms using artificial intelligence, climate control systems, and other tools.
“Vertical farming has always been on our wish-list for a lot of strategic reasons, but we were really busy doing other core things,” Stewart McGuire, Ocado Group’s Head of Corporate Development, said in an interview reported by Yahoo Finance.
Ocado plans to use its automation and distribution experience to make Jones Food’s operations more efficient, with the possibility of integrating the vertical farming operation with Ocado Zoom to deliver fresh products to customers within an hour, according to the news source. The two investments total 17 million pounds (USD $22 million), and represent Ocado’s interest in new fields for growth outside of its main business. Once its U.K. farm is developed, the partners plan to build additional farms throughout Europe and the world.
“Ocado is a technology company now so we’re not interested in becoming the world’s farmer, but we are interested in ensuring that people who have food supply chains have the best technology and the ability to operate that if need be,” McGuire commented.
Will Ocado’s investment in vertical farming spark competitor’s interest, creating a bona fide movement? AndNowUKnow will continue to report.