Bowery Bags $7.5M to Break Into Fast-Growing Indoor Farming Market
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microgreens, herbs, vine crops, and some fruits. Greens are the highest revenue-generating crop after cannabis, according to the report.
The indoor farming space is diverse, ranging from small units designed for the home, such as the cabinets marketed by Somerville, MA-based Grove, to large warehouse farms such as the one operated by startup Plenty in South San Francisco. Plenty told the Wall Street Journal that it aims to produce up to 3 million pounds of leafy greens annually in its 51,000 square-foot warehouse. Those greens will then be shipped to local chefs and specialty grocery stores.
Bowery tested 80 crops before settling on its current product line of six leafy greens and herbs. From its hydroponic farm in New Jersey, the company plans to shrink the supply chain by selling greens wholesale to grocery stores and restaurants in nearby Manhattan. That’s a similar approach taken by other indoor farming startups in the New York area, which is becoming an indoor farming hotbed. Edenworks, which started with a research facility in Brooklyn in 2013, plans to open a 12,000 square-foot commercial production facility for growing microgreens and baby greens, according to the Agrilyst report. The company culled its employees from sectors such as applied mathematics, engineering, and robotics, and it has developed its own hardware and software to capture and analyze plant data in the growing facility.
Meanwhile, BrightFarms, also based in New York, is scoping out more cities where it can deploy its indoor farming model. BrightFarms raised $30 million in a Series C round of investment last September, the largest indoor farming deal of the year, according to AgFunder. The company has supply contracts with grocery store chains serving markets near its farms located outside of Philadelphia, Washington, DC, and Chicago. A 160,000 square-foot farm in Illinois, opened last summer, is the newest BrightFarms site.
Fain won’t disclose the size of Bowery’s New Jersey farm, other than to say that it’s a warehouse-sized operation. But he contends that his company’s technology sets it apart from other indoor farming startups. While customizing flavors in produce might be Bowery’s most distinguishing capability, right now, the company is only offering that feature to its restaurant customers. Produce supplied to grocery stores will have the same standard flavor profile, Fain says. That produce will be priced at or below the price of packaged greens on the market today.
With the new capital, Bowery plans to add to its current headcount of 12, as well as start another farm. Besides First Round Ventures, the investors backing Bowery include Box Group, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, and Tom Colicchio, a chef who is using Bowery-grown greens in two of his New York restaurants.