German company Infarm wants to bring fresh produce, roots, soil and all, into stores. Think mini-farms in each grocery aisle, where shoppers can pick herbs, harvest produce and avoid pesticides that come with traditional packaging.
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The Berlin-based company, which develops farm technology for stores, restaurants and distribution centers, just raised $100 million, led by London’s Atomico. Other investors, TriplePoint Capital, Balderton Capital and Astanor Ventures also joined in, reports TechCrunch.
It previously raised $25 million in February 2018, to aid its European expansion.
The company also works in restaurants – one even harvested fresh herbs for its ancient Jewish vegetable-focused menu minutes before serving. For more understanding on how this looks, here’s a video.
The new round will be used to scale the company in Europe, the U.S. and more, and grow its R&D, operational, and commercial teams, reports TechCrunch. They’re currently offering services in Germany, Switzerland and France, according to the company’s website.
Let’s dial in on that last descriptor, as the rest seem pretty self-explanatory. As Steve O’Hear aptly put it in 2017, the company has orchestrated it’s micro-farming down to a science.
When a new type of herb or plant is introduced, Infarm’s plant experts and engineers create a recipe or algorithm for the produce type, factoring in nutrition, humidity, temperature, light intensity and spectrum, which is different from system to system depending on what is grown.
The resulting combination of IoT, Big Data and cloud analytics is akin to “Farming-as-a-Service,” whilst, space permitting, Infarm’s modular approach affords the ability to keep adding more farming capacity in a not entirely dissimilar way to how cloud computing can be ramped up at the push of a button.
Some quick statistics according to its website: the company claims it uses 95 percent less water, 90 percent less transportation and 75 percent less fertilizer than traditional farming. It also says it uses zero pesticides.
They’re in good company, as Crunchbase lists about 42 other companies working on “indoor farming” that have recently raised. This includes Artemis, an intelligence platform for indoor farms, Thrive Agritech, a Y-combinator company that works on lighting for indoor farming and Plenty, which wants to help plants avoid pesticides and GMOs.
That’s an aim at large-scale agriculture, and as the company tries to redesign the food supply chain for everyone from the corner bar to your closest grocery store. The new cash won’t hurt.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias.