Leading berry producer Driscoll’s has signed a deal with San Francisco-based indoor vertical-farming specialist Plenty Unlimited Inc that will see the latter grow Driscoll’s proprietary strawberries year-round in its vertical indoor farms. The two companies will work together to optimise the flavour, texture, size and availability of the strawberries grown, leveraging the benefits of a controlled growing environment. The partnership also paves the way for berry expansion into regions that have historically been difficult to serve.
Plenty will incorporate Driscoll’s proprietary genetics and berry expertise into its advanced, indoor farming technology using its plant science expertise. Using data analytics, machine learning and customised lighting, Plenty is able to iterate at unprecedented speed, enjoying access to more than 200 years worth of growing data generated annually across its vertical farming operation. Its advanced agri-food platform has allowed Plenty to show over 700% yield improvement in leafy greens in the last 24 months, while maintaining its unique flavour and quality. Plenty’s South San Francisco leafy greens farm uses 100% renewable energy, powered by a combination of wind and solar energy.
Driscoll’s strawberries will initially be grown and developed in Plenty’s Laramie, Wyoming farm – the largest privately-owned vertical farm research and development centre in the world. Plenty is also currently building the world’s highest output, vertical, indoor farm in Compton, California.
“It’s clear that Plenty’s vision and capabilities of pioneering the potential of indoor farming technology makes 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 flavour, combined with Plenty’s technology leadership will create a competitive market edge as we expand to more effectively meet the future consumer.”
“For over 100 years, Driscoll’s has been innovating in search of the best-tasting berries,” added Nate Storey, co-founder and chief science officer of Plenty. “As they embrace the emergence of indoor farming, we are proud they have chosen Plenty as their collaborator to develop flavourful berries grown indoors in a clean, controlled environment. We are aligned in our mission to bring the most delicious food to our consumers while reducing our environmental impact. Our goal is to bring fresh, flavour-forward berries grown locally to consumers around the world.”
The two companies were introduced through John Hartnett, the founder & CEO of SVG Ventures & THRIVE, which focuses on agriculture and technology: “The future of food and agriculture through innovation is accelerated when leaders like Driscoll’s and Plenty come together to transform the growing process in ways that benefit consumers,” said Hartnett. “We are delighted that our open innovation partnership with Driscoll’s played an important role in this opportunity.”