Indoor ag company Bowery Farming announced today a partnership with Albertsons that will put Bowery’s vertically grown greens into hundreds of grocery stores. From today, Bowery produce is available at an initial 275 Albertsons-owned Safeway and Acme stores in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions of the U.S.
To start, Bowery’s most popular products will be available at these stores. That includes a few different lettuce varieties as well as basil. All crops are grown in vertically stacked trays inside Bowery’s commercial-scale farms, which use a hydroponic system and a proprietary software platform that controls conditions inside the farm, such as temperature, humidity, and light intensity.
The system can also, through more advanced automation, detect potential problems with plants before they happen. This in turn can lead to better overall yields and higher-quality food that tastes better for consumers.
Speaking of that technology. Bowery founder and CEO Irving Fain told me earlier this year that “The system [for] indoor farming that you choose has a direct impact on the crops you’ll be able to grow, on the margins you’ll be able to generate, and on the return profile of the business itself.”
Bowery is also at work on its most technologically advanced farm to-date, which will open in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania later in 2021.
The company’s retail expansion comes at the same time indoor ag’s presence in mainstream grocery stores is on the uptick. Plenty, which operates commercial-scale vertical farms on the West Coast, just expanded its own Albertsons partnership in California. Kalera has partnerships with Publix stores around the U.S., and InFarm, based in Berlin, Germany, has come stateside in the last year via a deal with Kroger.
A demand for more local, traceable food is one reason for indoor ag’s increased presence in the grocery store. When we spoke, Fain noted that vertical farming can provide a more efficient, reliable way to get fresh produce into the hands of more customers.
Bowery’s completion of its Pennsylvania farm, which is slated to be the company’s largest to date, will allow for further expansion into grocery stores around the East Coast.