The Kroger Co. has announced details of a partnership with a Berlin-based indoor farming company to bring high-tech modular farms inside its U.S. stores.
The deal with Infarm will allow the retailer to grow leafy greens inside glass tanks to be located in the produce department, providing shoppers with what it described as “the freshest and most sustainable living produce options available.”
The partnership—which begins this month at 15 QFC stores in Bellevue and Kirkland, Wash.—marks the first rollout of Infarm’s solution in the U.S. Financial terms of the deal were not immediately disclosed. Kroger officials in an investor conference last week said the effort is already live in two QFC stores.
Infarm was founded in 2013 in Berlin and has more than 500 farms in food stores and distribution centers in Germany, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg and the U.K. In June, Infarm raised $100 million in Series B funding. In September, it announced a partnership to build farms in stores operated by the U.K.-based retailer Marks & Spencer.
“Kroger believes that everyone deserves to have access to fresh, affordable and delicious food, no matter who you are, how you shop or what you like to eat,” said Suzy Monford, Kroger's group VP of fresh, in a release. “Our partnership with Infarm allows us to innovate by combining groundbreaking in-store farming technology with our passion for fresh, local produce and ecological sourcing. Kroger is excited to be first to market and offer the best of the season, and we're proud to lead the U.S. on this journey.”
Photograph courtesy of Kroger
InFarm said it remotely controls growing conditions at its units through a cloud-based farming platform that learns, adjusts and improves itself continuously, so each plant grows better than the one before. It said it can re-create growing conditions from around the world, bringing plants that were previously too delicate, rare or expensive to stores.
“We want to make fresh, pure, tasty and nutritious produce available and affordable for everyone,” said Erez Galonska, CEO and co-founder of Infarm. “Kroger’s commitment to innovation, quality and flavor makes them the perfect partner with which to launch our business in the United States and for the first time in North America.”
Cincinnati-based Kroger described the partnership with Infarm as “a model of innovation in the grocery industry.” The retailer has fully invested in its Zero Hunger Zero Waste social impact plan that aims to end hunger in local communities and eliminate waste across the company by 2025.