Oishii made waves last year for its wildly expensive strawberries, fetching $50 for a box of eight to 11 berries. Based in the bastion of vertical farming that is Kearny, New Jersey, the company began supplying fruit to Michelin-starred restaurants (whose chefs clearly believed the product was worth the price).
They’ve since rolled out to select stores in Manhattan and Los Angeles and have become something of a sensation among social media influencers seeking clout by chomping into a box of $50 berries.
This week, the firm announced the opening of a new 74,000-square-foot farm in nearby Jersey City, which will be devoted entirely to growing strawberries. Along with that news comes word that the company will lowering the price of its $50 Omakase Berries — $20 bucks will get you a tray of eight to 11 berries, $11 will get you six and $6 gets you three. For those still keen to pay $50 for some strawberries, good news, that’s still the price for six of the company’s First Flower Berries. So…win-win?
“We’ve worked hard to pioneer advanced technology that unlocks a substantially more efficient way to grow our unrivaled strawberries,” co-founder and CEO Hiroki Koga says in a release. “Our largest farm yet pairs the next frontier of indoor farming innovation with the care and precision of centuries-old Japanese farming techniques.”
It’s true that there are a number of upsides to vertical farming, including dramatically reduced water requirements, no pesticides, smaller footprints and access to urban areas. But true scale is going to require that prices be on par with traditionally grown supermarket alternatives. This isn’t that, of course, but it gets the company closure.
Still, in spite (or perhaps because) of the price, word has gotten out, and the company says demand is at “an all-time high.” As such, it will be expanding to additional locations in New York and will be selling the berries online.