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01/26/2022

Why Walmart Is ‘Significantly’ Investing in Vertical Farming

Jamie Grill-Goodman
Senior Editor
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Plenty Farms Tower Robot. Credit: Walmart.

Walmart will soon source leafy greens for all its California stores from a local indoor vertical farming company.

The retailer said it’s the first large U.S. retailer to “significantly invest” in vertical farming, announcing it signed an agreement to invest in Plenty as part of their $400M Series E funding round.

Walmart said the move is part of a broader strategic partnership to utilize Plenty’s indoor vertical farming technology platform to deliver fresh produce to Walmart retail stores. Walmart and Plenty will work collaboratively to create a new, “market-leading product category in vertical farming by delivering the freshness and quality that Walmart customers expect, year-round,” the retailer said. The long-term commercial agreement will allow Walmart to source Plenty’s leafy greens for all its California stores from Plenty’s Compton farm beginning later this year.

The investment is an important step for the retailer, as it continues to reimagine food solutions that sustain and nourish people in ways that are good for people and the planet and reinforces Walmart’s broader commitment to regeneration, sustainability and ESG. The retailer noted vertical farming supplements traditional farming practices to help increase food supply and alleviate current challenges on the food system in a sustainable way.

Plenty’s farming technology platform delivers pesticide-free produce year-long. The company’s indoor farming architecture differs from greenhouses and other indoor farms, combining engineering, software and sustainable crop science to grow multiple crops on one platform, at unprecedented speed. Backed by one of the largest U.S patent portfolios in the industry, Plenty’s proprietary tech meaningfully improves on traditional agriculture’s use of water and land. By building their farms closer to the consumer, Plenty helps reduce transportation and food waste, keeping items fresher for longer in 100% recyclable product packaging.

"At Walmart, we are focused on identifying and investing in innovative food solutions to bring our customers the freshest, highest-quality foods at the best prices,” said Charles Redfield, chief merchandising officer, Walmart U.S. “We believe Plenty is a proven leader in a new era of agriculture, one that offers pesticide-free, peak-flavor produce to shoppers every day of the year. This partnership not only accelerates agricultural innovation, but reinforces our commitment to sustainability, by delivering a new category of fresh that is good for people and the planet.”

As part of Walmart’s equity investment, at closing, Walmart will also join Plenty’s board of directors.

"Plenty’s unique farming system unlocks industry-leading crop versatility and unit economics by enabling indoor growing year round,” said Arama Kukutai, Plenty CEO. "Our farms can be sited anywhere allowing us to put fresh fruits, greens and vegetables on shelf at all times, at speed, for maximum freshness. As a long-time market leader in retail innovation, Walmart is an ideal partner to test and scale access to our quality produce for their customers. This is a game-changer for the agritech industry.”