BENTONVILLE, ARK. — Walmart Inc. has invested in and formed a partnership with Plenty Unlimited Inc., South San Francisco, Calif., an indoor vertical farming company. The partnership will allow Walmart to source leafy greens for its California stores from Plenty’s Compton, Calif., farm later this year.
“We believe Plenty is a proven leader in a new era of agriculture, one that offers pesticide-free, peak-flavor produce to shoppers every day of the year,” said Charles Redfield, chief merchandising officer for Walmart US. “This partnership not only accelerates agricultural innovation, but reinforces our commitment to sustainability, by delivering a new category of fresh that is good for people and the planet.”
Plenty’s vertical farming business model uses engineering, software and crop science to grow multiple crops on one platform rapidly. While the company is headquartered in South San Francisco, it has a research facility in Laramie, Wyo., and its indoor farm in Compton. By building vertical farms closer to consumer populations, it allows the company to promote how little land and water is used in production, and how it leads to reduced transportation and food waste.
“Our farms can be sited anywhere allowing us to put fresh fruits, greens and vegetables on shelf at all times, at speed, for maximum freshness,” said Arama Kukutai, chief executive officer of Plenty. “As a longtime market leader in retail innovation, Walmart is an ideal partner to test and scale access to our quality produce for their customers. This is a game-changer for the agri-tech industry.”
Walmart’s investment in Plenty was part of a $400 million Series E financing round. Other investors included SoftBank Vision Fund 1, JS Capital and One Madison Group. At closing of the investment, representatives of both One Madison Group and Walmart will join Plenty’s board of directors.
The funds will be used to support Plenty’s growth strategy, including selling multi-crop farms directly to partners.
“The indoor farming sector is at an exciting inflection point, poised to reach its full potential as a new asset class that addresses the significant need to provide access to fresh, nutritious food year-round, even in geographies where traditional farming is difficult,” said Omar Asali, chairman and CEO of One Madison Group, New York, NY. “Plenty has truly ‘cracked the code’ on the technology and economics of indoor farming. It has developed an innovative and scalable model that can deliver fresh, sustainable produce to retailers, growers and governments anywhere in the world.”