Watsonville, Calif.-based Driscoll’s and indoor vertical-farming company Plenty Unlimited Inc. have announced a joint development agreement to grow Driscoll’s proprietary strawberries year-round in Plenty’s vertical indoor farms.
The combination of Driscoll’s 100 years of farming heritage will complement South San Francisco-based Plenty’s indoor farming technology, according to a news release.
“It’s clear that Plenty’s vision and capabilities of pioneering the potential of indoor farming technology makes them the leader in this space,” J. Miles Reiter, chairman and CEO of Driscoll’s, said in the release. “As one of the few berry companies with a dedicated global research and development program, we believe our proprietary berries, which are focused on flavor, combined with Plenty’s technology leadership will create a competitive market edge as we expand to more effectively meet the future consumer.”
According to the release, Plenty will incorporate Driscoll’s proprietary genetics and berry expertise into its advanced, indoor farming technology using its plant science expertise.
Driscoll’s strawberries will first be grown and developed in Plenty’s Laramie, Wyo., farm, which the release said is the largest privately-owned vertical farm research and development center in the world.
The indoor environment will take away the unpredictability of Mother Nature. That, according to the release, will allow both companies to meet the future needs of consumers worldwide, including geographical locations that are not friendly to growing strawberries.
Using data analytics, machine learning and customized lighting, the release said Plenty is able to improve its yields quickly.
For example, the release said Plenty has experienced more than 700% yield improvement in leafy greens in the last 24 months.
“For over 100 years, Driscoll’s has been innovating in search of the best-tasting berries,” Nate Storey, co-founder and chief science officer of Plenty. “As they embrace the emergence of indoor farming, we are proud they have chosen Plenty as their collaborator to develop flavorful berries grown indoors in a clean, controlled environment. We are aligned in our mission to bring the most delicious food to our consumers while reducing our environmental impact. Our goal is to bring fresh, flavor-forward berries grown locally to consumers around the world.”
The two companies were introduced through John Hartnett of SVG Ventures, which focuses on agriculture and technology, according to the release. He helped facilitate the discussions as both companies sought ways to grow the most flavorful strawberries.
“The future of food and agriculture through innovation is accelerated when leaders like Driscoll’s and Plenty come together to transform the growing process in ways that benefit consumers,” said John Hartnett, founder & CEO SVG Ventures & THRIVE. “We are delighted that our open innovation partnership with Driscoll’s played an important role in this opportunity.”