BrightFarms, the greenhouse farmer providing locally grown packaged salads to supermarkets, has secured $55 million in new financing, which it said would fuel its expansion.
The funding will be led by Cox Enterprises and joined by existing investors Catalyst Investors, WP Global Partners and NGEN Partners. The announcement comes after counterpart Gotham Greens also announced new funding, indicating heightened investor interest in alternative food systems.
BrightFarms builds and operates greenhouse farms near major metropolitan areas to provide supermarkets with year-round supply of locally grown produce. Officials say the practice provides salads with a one-week freshness advantage over imported competitors and lifts category sales at retailers.
BrightFarms provides salads to leading national retailers such as Kroger, Ahold Delhaize, Albertsons and Walmart.
The company currently operates facilities in Pennsylvania, Virginia and Illinois. A new farm in Ohio will open this summer, followed by a Texas facility in early 2019. BrightFarms said its operations use 80% less water, 90% less land and 95% less shipping fuel than long-distance, centralized and field-grown suppliers. Its produce is pesticide-free and non-GMO.
For Cox Enterprises, the investment in BrightFarms supports a joint strategy in social responsibility and diversified growth. In 2007, the media company launched its national sustainability initiative, Cox Conserves. Since then, it has invested more than $100 million toward environmental goals, including sending zero waste to landfill by 2024 and becoming carbon and water neutral by 2044. More recently, Cox has expanded its investment strategy to include sustainable technology businesses in water, energy and food and agriculture.
“BrightFarms presents a unique opportunity to reshape agriculture production and drive positive environmental change by growing in local, controlled environment agriculture farms. We are excited about the opportunity to support BrightFarms’ growth as it scales into a national brand,” Dallas Clement, CFO of Cox Enterprises, said in a statement.
David Blau, vice president of strategy and corporate development, and Lacey Lewis, senior vice president of finance, Cox Enterprises, have joined the BrightFarms board of directors.