Vertical farming startup Plenty announced today it has raised a $140 million Series D round led by Softbank’s Vision Fund 1. The round also included participation from berry producer Driscoll’s, according to a press release sent to The Spoon. The investment brings Plenty’s total funding to date to $541 million.
The funding announcement comes mere days after Plenty announced a partnership with Driscoll’s to grow strawberries inside Plenty vertical farms. Part of this new investment will go towards that partnership, as well as Plenty’s collaboration with grocery retailer Albertsons and development on the company’s new farm in Compton, California.
Both the Driscoll’s and Albertsons partnerships mean Plenty’s produce will be available in more locations, especially California, where the company is headquartered. The Albertsons partnership, announced in August of this year, will put plenty greens in 431 of the retailer’s California stores. For the Driscoll’s partnership, Plenty will use its Laramie, Wyoming facility to grow the berry producer’s proprietary strawberry breed.
Plenty’s news follows other recent developments in the vertical/indoor farming sector that span commercial-scale farms, at-home gardens, and initiatives in the grocery store itself. Kalera, another massive vertical farming operation, announced Denver as the next city for its rapid expansion westward. Rise Gardens this week announced an investment from the Amazon Alexa Fund for its in-home hydroponic grow system, and last month, In-Farm raised $170 million to expand its network of vertical farming pods across more grocery stores.
Less than one year ago, the vertical farming sector was expanding, but a lot of questions remained around the scalability of the concept and how appealing it could be to investors. The nearly constant stream of funding and product announcements in 2020 has sped up that expansion. Part of this is due to, yep, you guessed it, the pandemic. Disruptions in the food supply chain due to COVID-19 have consumers more interested than ever in where their food comes from, and having it grown closer to home is an increasingly attractive option.