BrightFarms' Abby Prior Discusses the Growth of Indoor Leafy Greens at Retail
NEW YORK, NY - In early December, we had the pleasure of reporting that BrightFarms' Abby Prior had been promoted to Chief Commercial Officer. With this new appointment, the company has also finalized the formation of its new Commercial team, which will focus on bringing indoor-grown leafy greens into the retail spotlight. I recently had the chance to sit down with Abby and discuss some of the details.
Chandler James: Abby, with the recent acquisition by Cox Enterprises and increasing demand for indoor-grown leafy greens, why is now the perfect time to launch this new team?
Abby Prior: The indoor sector and our company specifically are at an inflection point. Cox has been our lead investor, and now we have more capital to accelerate our pace of building new capacity. For the past six years, our primary focus has been on raising money, and now we are just focused on growing. We are building out our team to be the sort of organization Cox envisions us as; we'll finish this year somewhere around 40 million in retail sales, but Cox would like us in the next five to 10 years to be 10 times that big. So, we're changing the structure of our Commercial team to reflect that. We used to place our sales focus on geographies, and that no longer felt like the appropriate way to do it. So, we now focus on the present and the future.
CJ: I know multiple other leaders were promoted in addition to your new role announcement; can you tell me about their focuses within the Commercial team?
AP: We broke out our sales team with two leadership roles. One is Vice President of Sales, which is held by Matt DiNitto. His focus is to get product out each and every day and serve our existing retail partners extremely well. We named Suzie Dollak as Vice President of Customer Strategy, and her role will be to think about the infrastructure needed to achieve 10 times more growth in the future.
We've also elevated some people on our marketing team. Jessica Soare has been promoted to Director of Marketing on the brand side, and her job is to figure out how to communicate all of this to the consumer through packaging, positioning, and more. Marissa Arguelles is now our Director of Innovation, and she's working on the next phase of BrightFarms' products as we seek to truly replicate the whole offering of the salad category.
CJ: Strong relationships with retailers will clearly be very important as you pursue these long-term goals. In what ways will BrightFarms wield those relationships to best represent the indoor leafy greens category?
AP: Over the next five to 10 years, our goal is for retail partners in the geographies where we have our farms to see us as a complete category solution for indoor leafy greens. We hope to allow buyers to source their whole category from us through consistency of service, a strong track record in order fill and food safety, and driving consumer demand to be a one-stop shop.
We highly value our long-standing, deep partnerships with retailers, and we want to be seen as the player that will go the extra mile. One of our values as an organization is fanatical customer service—we want to do more than what's expected of us to earn the trust of our retail partners.
CJ: The opportunity for growth seems infinite! What are some of the upcoming developments at the farm level that will position BrightFarms as a leader in this space?
AP: One of the things I'm most excited for is what we can do in terms of impacting the sustainability of the produce supply chain. As we build these new farms, there are some exciting ideas coming forth around how they can run on dramatically less energy, how we continue to take miles off the road, and how we can cut carbon emissions out of the supply chain.
We're just getting started in the effort to make indoor leafy greens a staple item. BrightFarms is going to be a strong player, and we see other companies doing a really great job as well. I think a few players are going to come forward as the leaders of the space and really drive the conversion to indoor, and we are overjoyed to be at the helm of those efforts.
It's only up from here for BrightFarms, and ANUK will be here to celebrate its success along the way.