BrightFarms to grow greenhouse vegetables on retail roofs - The Packer

BrightFarms to grow greenhouse vegetables on retail roofs

07/07/2011 09:57:00 AM
Dan Gailbraith

That likely is too much volume for a store that size, and BrightFarms is looking to work with retailers who operate multiple stores in a given area.

“We like the cluster model,” he said.

Lightfoot said product likely would be packed on the roof, and a conveyor would be used to move it to the ground level.

The business model will result in better produce, better products and do it in a fashion that is better for the environment than any other growing method, he said.

“It hasn’t spent a week on a truck, so it’s going to be more attractive,” he said. “It’s going to be more fresh, and it’s going to last longer. There will be less shrink. The retailer is going to sell a higher percentage of what they buy.”

BrightFarms also is offering its retail partners long-term discounts by way of fixed prices, which are guaranteed to adjust only by the Consumer Price Index.

“We’re insulated from commodity inflation because there is no oil in our supply chain,” Lightfoot said. “We’re eliminating volatility in the marketplace.”

Participating retailers also could be immune from the potentially devastating effects of product recalls during foodborne illness outbreaks, Lightfoot said, because customers will know where their produce is coming from.

“If something like the 2006 spinach recall happens again, you still have regular volume and your customers will trust you in a way they don’t trust other stores,” he said.

BrightFarms offers some of the same environmental benefits as other greenhouses — no tractors, no oil-based fertilizer, water conservation, and no chemical pesticides — with the added benefit of no long-haul trucks, Lightfoot said.

“Some retailers we’re working with are focused on the economics of it, but when you talk to the merchandisers involved, you can see them get dreamy-eyed about this,” Lightfoot said. “It’s the most local produce there is.”


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