According to the press release, the deal will place Infarm units at 15 of Kroger’s QFC stores, starting with two locations this month in Bellevue and Kirkland, Washington.
Infarm creates high-tech pods that can be installed in locations like grocery stores or restaurants. These pods use a combination of hydroponics and cloud-connected software to monitor growing elements like light, air, nutrients, etc. Right now, Infarm units can grow leafy greens like lettuce and a variety of herbs.
The promise of indoor vertical farms like Infarm’s is reducing the environmental footprint of produce by eliminating the need for transportation. This proximity also translates to fresher food for the consumer as it’s picked on-site.
That all sounds great, but as my colleague Jenn Marston wrote recently, the promise of vertical farming has yet to pay off:
As an industry, vertical farming has yet to prove itself as an environmentally and economically efficient piece of the agriculture system, and along with the hype are more and more stories about complications or outright closures of vertical farms. Already, a company called FarmedHere shut down in 2017, Plantagon went bankrupt in March of 2019, and just recently, MIT halted work on its controversial Open Agriculture Initiative project after reportedly exaggerating results of its vertical farming experiments.
Those disappointments, however, were around larger scale vertical farms. Perhaps Infarm, with its smaller, in-store approach can succeed where others have failed.
Infarm continues to, well plow ahead. The company raised a $100 million Series B round earlier this year, and announced a partnership to bring its vertical farm pods to Marks and Spencer stores in the U.K.
Bellevue and Kirkland aren’t that far from The Spoon HQ, so you can expect one of us to make the trip and pick some in-store produce soon.