Venture Capital: Driscoll’s, Of Strawberries Fame, And SoftBank Invest In Vertical Farmer Plenty

October 15, 2020 | News, Venture Capital
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Plenty Unlimited is a leader in sustainable, indoor vertical farming.

Plenty builds indoor vertical farms that create the optimum environment for food plants and reduce the vagaries from changing weather and climate conditions. The startup announced Wednesday its Series D raise of $140 million. The round was led by existing investor Softbank Vision Fund 1 and including new investor Driscoll’s. The latter is the world’s leader in fresh berries.

As of date, the startup has raised over $500 million.

How it works at Plenty: Creation of perfect growing conditions

The company’s cultivation principle is simple: By giving plants exactly what they want, they can be made to taste how they should.

Greens produced at Plenty are clean enough to be ready-to-eat, no washing required. The startup’s operations are environment-friendly because they use less than 5% of the water and less than 1% of the land compared to outdoor farms.

Furthermore, controlled conditions ensure that plants get the exact amount of water for their healthy sustenance. The company simply recycles back any excess water.

Plants need photosynthesis for growth. Plenty provides precise lighting for this process by using LED lamps. “Photosynthetic wavelengths are synced with the crop’s growth to minimize energy usage and optimize yields,” the company’s website says.

Moreover, the indoor vertical farms are climate-controlled to ensure that filtered air is circulated at the right temperature and humidity.

It does not use any pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers, or GMOs.

These techniques ensure the availability of fresh-tasting produce round the year.

Data analytics and machine learning drive yields

Plenty uses data analytics and machine learning on an advanced agri-food platform that generates 200 years of growing data annually.

It collects data on its farm using thousands of infrared cameras and sensors.

This platform helped Plenty gain an over 700% improvement in the yields on leafy greens over the past two years. However, the company did not compromise on flavor.

“Plenty has built an intelligent, scalable agriculture platform that delivers unprecedented flavor, purity, consistency and yield,” said Matt Barnard, co-founder and CEO at Plenty, in a statement. “The recent disruptions in the global supply chain caused by the West Coast wildfires and COVID-19 have highlighted how quickly our access to quality produce can be thwarted. Plenty’s controlled and resilient farms and local distribution made it easy for us to scale quickly, even during the pandemic. It demonstrated that our indoor, vertical farm flourishes under environmental pressures and delivers delicious greens along with the sales that come with it.”

Partnerships with Albertsons and Driscoll’s

Plenty also inked partnerships with berries leader Driscoll’s and grocery chain Albertsons Companies (NYSE: ACI).

Plenty will now grow Driscoll’s proprietary strawberries year-round in its vertical indoor farms. According to Food & Farming Technology, Plenty will initially grow Driscoll’s strawberries at its Laramie, Wyoming farm – the largest privately-owned vertical farm research and development center in the world.

“It’s clear that Plenty’s vision and capabilities of pioneering the potential of indoor farming technology make them the leader in this space,” said J. Miles Reiter, Driscoll’s chairman and CEO. “As one of the few berry companies with a dedicated global R&D program, we believe our proprietary berries, which are focused on flavor, combined with Plenty’s technology leadership will create a competitive market edge as we expand to more effectively meet the future consumer.”

Last month, Plenty tied up with Albertsons to provide shoppers in more than 430 stores across California with Plenty’s produce.

Related Story:   Ynsect, Which Farms Insects, Snags $372M                                               

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