Just before Thanksgiving, grocery chain Kroger launched an initiative in partnership with Infarm, a German startup that specializes in “modular vertical farms,” to install hydroponic farms right inside two of their Seattle-area stores. Even though it’s been less than a month since the rollout, CityLab reports, Kroger is already declaring the project a success and looking to expand it to other locations.
Vertical farming is a space- and energy-efficient way of growing produce such as lettuce, herbs, and peas right inside the grocery stores where customers shop. According to CityLab, items are sold in bunches, “roots and all,” and shoppers have taken to these tiny farms so quickly that sometimes the produce sells out quicker than new produce can mature.
“For the bulk of the last century, food has been produced far from where it is consumed, generating a supply chain that is environmentally unsustainable,” said Infarm CEO Osnat Michaeli. “Our modular farms offer the potential of turning the supply chain on its head by building the world’s first global farming network.”
Kroger, for its part, touts the program as a way for shoppers to make informed food choices. “Customers today want transparency; they want to know exactly where their product is from, the provenance where it was grown,” said Suzy Monford, vice president of fresh foods at Kroger Group. This is Infarm’s first time collaborating with a U.S. grocery chain to bring customers these in-store hydroponic farms. Kroger plans to expand vertical farming to 13 more of its locations (all in Washington and Oregon) by April 2020.