Fresh Food

Albertsons' Big Bet on Vertical Farms

Deal with Plenty to provide greens for 430 California stores
Photograph courtesy of Plenty

Albertsons Cos. this week announced an agreement to provide shoppers in more than 430 of its California stores with fresh produce grown in a futuristic vertical farm.

The collaboration with Plenty marks a “milestone” for the grower, which produces a variety of packaged greens under the Plenty brand out of a high-tech South San Francisco indoor farm that provides what it said was pesticide-free, fresh, sustainable and flavorful produce grown using less than 1% of the land and 5% of the water of conventional outdoor growers.

“We pride ourselves on offering fresh, quality products that surprise and delight our customers,” Geoff White, EVP of merchandising for Albertsons, said in a statement. “Plenty’s data-driven and sustainable methods are truly innovative, and we look forward to bringing their unique and exciting products to more customers in California as they scale their operations.”

Plenty said its operation leverages data analytics, machine learning and customized lighting to maximize taste, while a combination of wind and solar provides 100% of the farm’s energy. The current Plenty farm can grow 1 million plants at a time and process 200 plants per minute.

The company, which has raised more than $226 million from venture backers, is at work on a second facility in Compton, Calif.

“Albertsons Cos. is leading the industry by creating a new partnership model to deliver customers the intensely flavorful and fresh produce of the Plenty farm,” said Matt Barnard, CEO of Plenty. “This is an important milestone for the Plenty team, and we look forward to bringing Albertsons Cos. customers the best-tasting and cleanest greens they’ve ever eaten.”

Plenty is currently available in select Safeway and Andronico's locations in the Bay Area, with plans to expand to additional Albertsons Cos. stores in California—including Albertsons, Vons and Pavilions—as supply increases.

The companies said the partnership had proven capable of meeting the evolving needs of the consumer—regardless of events that can impact the supply chain. When demand soared at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, Plenty at Albertsons’ request ramped up production at its indoor vertical farm to bring more products to market, despite the global food chain disruption.

Albertsons said it would carry four Plenty products initially: Baby Arugula, Baby Kale, Crispy Lettuce and a Mizuna Mix.

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