Plenty bags $140m in funding for its indoor farming tech

15 Oct 2020

Image: Plenty

Californian indoor agriculture business Plenty has raised $140m in its latest funding round, bringing the total raised by the start-up to more than $500m.

On Wednesday (14 October), San Francisco vertical farming business Plenty announced that it has raised $140m in Series D funding.

The Series D round was led by existing investor, SoftBank Vision Fund 1, with participation from new investor Driscoll’s, a California-based agriculture business that claims to control around one-third of the $6bn berry market in the US.

Plenty, which was previously listed as an urban agriculture start-up to watch on, plans to use the latest round of funding to fuel growth and execute new commercial collaborations with Driscoll’s and US grocery business Albertsons.

Plenty’s technology

Plenty was co-founded by Matt Barnard, Jack Oslan, Nate Mazonson and Nate Storey in 2014. The company’s vertical farming technology can grow produce all year round, and Plenty claims that it uses 99pc less land and 95pc less water to grow crops than traditional methods.

Plenty’s San Francisco farm uses 100pc renewable energy and, according to the company, the firm can grow 1,500 acres of produce in a building the size of a big box grocery store.

To date, Plenty has raised more than $500m from investors including Bezos Expeditions, Innovation Endeavors and DCM Ventures. Plenty is currently developing a new indoor farm in Compton, California, which the start-up believes could become the world’s highest-output vertical farm.

Jeff Housenbold, managing partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers, said: “In just 30 years’ time, the world will need 70pc more food than we currently produce, requiring more efficient use of land and water. Without innovation in agriculture, this demand will be impossible to meet.

“We believe Plenty is transforming the way food is made and are pleased to continue supporting their mission to build sustainable, intelligent farms that deliver healthy, safe produce with a focus on premium flavour.”

Plenty’s agriculture platform uses data analytics, machine learning and customised lighting to iterate at high speeds, using 200 years’ worth of growing data. The company said that it has seen a 700pc yield improvement in leafy greens over the last 24 months by using this data.

Barnard, who serves as chief executive of Plenty, said: “The recent disruptions in the global supply chain caused by the west coast wildfires and Covid-19 have highlighted how quickly our access to quality produce can be thwarted.

“Plenty’s controlled and resilient farms and local distribution made it easy for us to scale quickly, even during the pandemic, demonstrating that our indoor, vertical farm flourishes under environmental pressures and delivers delicious greens along with the sales that come with it.”

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic