Infarm, the Berlin-based startup that has developed vertical farming tech for grocery stores, restaurants and local distribution centres to bring fresh and artisan produce much closer to the consumer, is expanding to Paris.
Once again, the company is partnering with Metro in a move that will see Infarm’s “in-store farming” platform installed in the retailer’s flagship store in the French capital city later this month. The 80 metre square “vertical farm” will produce approximately 4 tonnes of premium quality herbs, leafy greens, and microgreens annually, and means that Metro will become completely self-sufficient in its herb production with its own in-store farm.
Founded in 2013 by Osnat Michaeli, and brothers Erez and Guy Galonska, Infarm has developed an “indoor vertical farming” system capable of growing anything from herbs, lettuce and other vegetables, and even fruit. It then places these modular farms in a variety of customer-facing city locations, such as grocery stores, restaurants, shopping malls, and schools, thus enabling the end-customer to actually pick the produce themselves.
The distributed system is designed to be infinitely scalable — you simply add more modules, space permitting — whilst the whole thing is cloud-based, meaning the farms can be monitored and controlled from Infarm’s central control centre. It’s data-driven: a combination of IoT, Big Data and cloud analytics akin to “Farming-as-a-Service”.
The idea isn’t just to produce fresher and better tasting produce and re-introduce forgotten or rare varieties, but to disrupt the supply chain as a whole, which remains inefficient and produces a lot of waste.
“Many before have tried to solve the deficiencies in the current supply chain, we wanted to redesign the entire chain from start to finish; Instead of building large-scale farms outside of the city, optimising on a specific yield and then distributing the produce, we decided it would be more effective to distribute the farms themselves and farm directly where people live and eat,” explains Erez Galonska, co-founder and CEO of Infarm, in a statement.
Meanwhile, the move into France follows $25 million in Series A funding raised by Infarm at the start of the year and is part of an expansion plan that has already seen one hundred farms powered by the Infarm platform launch. Other recent installations include Edeka locations in Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, and Hannover. Further expansion into Zurich, Amsterdam, and London is said to be planned over the coming months.
“One thousand in-store farms are being rolled out in Germany alone,” adds Infarm’s Osnat Michaeli. “We are expanding to other European markets each and every day, partnering with leading supermarket chains and planning our North America expansion program for 2019. Recognising the requirements of our customers we have recently launched a new product; DC farm – a ‘Seed to Package’ production facility tailored to the needs of retail chains’ distribution centres. We’ve just installed our very first ‘DC farm’ in EDEKA’s distribution center”.