Picture: 123RF/TEGUH JATI
Picture: 123RF/TEGUH JATI

London — Indoor farming start-up Infarm has raised an additional $100m to expand into more foods as the coronavirus pandemic increases interest in growing produce in urban areas.

Infarm, which already grows salad greens and herbs, wants to strengthen its presence in existing markets, hire more people and venture into new crops, including mushrooms, tomatoes and chillies, CEO Erez Galonska said.

The Berlin-based company received extra financing from existing investors on top of the $170m raised in September.

Vertical farming targets growing food using a fraction of land and water needed in conventional agriculture, without needing pesticides. Growing crops on vertically stacked shelves in cities has gained particular attention during the pandemic amid concerns about food security, safety and local self-reliance.

Still, challenges include cutting energy costs and diversifying produce, which so far has largely focused on leaf vegetables.

“The idea is that, in the medium term, we’re going to cultivate the entire fruit and vegetable basket,” Galonska said. “This will be a pivotal moment for the industry, but also to people that consume the food. We will be able to offer a more diverse basket, a premium basket, and hopefully change the way people eat and think food.”

Infarm is present in 10 countries and has deals with retailers such as Kroger, Amazon Fresh, Metro, and Marks & Spencer Group. It provides modular units that grow food on supermarket aisles and inside restaurants.

Diversifying crops will help accelerate the shift to plant-based diets, Galonska said.

The fresh money, a mix of debt and equity, came from firms including Hanaco Ventures and Atomico. That brings total funding to more than $400m, making Infarm one of the most-funded vertical farming start-ups in the world, according to researcher Dealroom.

Infarm is also ramping up output by building large-scale farms that use technology to gather data and better grow food. It’s targeting 100 “growing centres” that will cover 500,000m2 by 2025. That will enable it to expand into new markets.

Galonska declined to comment on a Sky News report that Infarm is seeking to raise about $250m in additional money. The company is keeping its financing options open, but has no plans to go public at the moment, he said.

Bloomberg

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