San Francisco-based vertical farming startup Plenty today unveiled some first glimpses of its new farm, Tigris.
According to a press release, the farm will focus on enhancing the flavor of crops as well as widening the variety of fruits and vegetables it and most other vertical farms currently produce.
That includes adding not just strawberries and tomatoes to the mix, but also foods that aren’t necessarily standards in the average American grocery store. “There are 70,000 edible fruit and vegetable varieties in the world, and because of the challenges of growing outdoors and putting food on trucks, we’ve been relegated to eat the few dozen that we find at the grocery store,” Plenty cofounder and chief science officer Nate Storey said in the release.
While Plenty didn’t name specifics, there’s plenty of produce that rarely reaches U.S. shores either because of regulations around potential pests or simply the wear and tear travel puts on the foods.
Plenty will probably not be growing cucamelon or cloud berries any time soon, but Storey’s comment does highlight that potential role for vertical farms.
That said, right now the company is still focused on leafy greens and creating the perfect “recipe” — that is, nutrients, climate, and water usage — to enhance flavor. Plenty currently grows and sells things like kale, beet leaves, arugula, and fennel.
The company nabbed a $200 million Series B investment in 2017 from the likes of Softbank CEO, Masayoshi Son, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. Plenty’s current total funding as of this writing is $226 million.
In 2018, Plenty had announced it was building 300 vertical farms across China, where the market for vertical farming is significantly increasing.
Tigris, meanwhile, is currently undergoing its food-safety certification. Currently, customers can buy Plenty greens in San Francisco at a number of local stores, as well as online at Good Eggs. Plenty says Tigris greens will become more widely available later this year.