Kroger, vertical farming startup 80 Acres Farms growing partnership to include 1,000 stores
80 Acres, one of the region’s best-funded startups, and downtown Cincinnati-based Kroger (NYSE: KR), the nation’s largest operator of traditional supermarkets, announced Aug. 15 a new deal that will supply about 1,000 stores across the Midwest and Southeast with 80 Acres leafy greens, cucumbers and famed Fireworks tomatoes.
The company is also preparing to open another farm in Georgia, about 25 miles east of Atlanta, with more locations on the way. Construction at that site, its largest to date, is ongoing.
80 Acres CEO Mike Zelkind said retailers are attracted to indoor farming because the produce is fresher and more environmentally sustainable.
80 Acres uses a pesticide-free, indoor environment, and its farms run using a combination of LED lighting, artificial intelligence, robotics and more.
“Kroger is putting its weight behind us at an important time for the industry, which has been going through some difficulties,” Zelkind told me (80 Acres in January went through a round of layoffs; other high-tech indoor farming companies have declared bankruptcy).
Kroger is Cincinnati’s largest public company, with $148 billion in revenue in 2022, according to Business Courier research. It operates 2,700 stores and 430,000 employees.
80 Acres, founded in 2015, is Greater Cincinnati’s third best-funded startup, with more than $260 million in capital raised.
Besides Kroger, the company also sells its greens, herbs, fruits, and vegetables to Whole Foods, Fresh Market, Dorothy Lane Markets, Jungle Jim’s Markets and foodservice distributors including Sysco and US Foods.
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