Sobeys and Infarm plant seeds for more farms

by Inside Logistics Online Staff

Infarm and Sobeys Inc. have a new agreement to build four new vertical produce farms in Calgary, Halifax, Winnipeg, and Hamilton, Ontario.

An Infarm Growing Center (IGC) with multiple state-of-the-art production modules.

The agreement builds on the success of a partnership launched in 2020 – the first of national scope between a Canadian retailer and a vertical farming company – to offer locally grown, Infarm produce to Sobeys Inc. consumers Canada-wide.

As part of the deal, Infarm will construct new Infarm Growing Centers – growth, production and distribution hubs with high-capacity vertical farms – at sites in Calgary, Halifax and Winnipeg. Hamilton, Ontario will be the site of the largest Infarm Growing Center in North America with a growing capacity of 37,000 square feet.

In combination with existing Infarm Growing Centers in Vancouver and Victoria/Vancouver Island, the agreement allows the company to increase production volume in Canada more than sevenfold. The deal comes in response to the increasing demand by retailers, including Sobeys, Safeway and Thrifty Food for fresh Infarm produce, and will supply more than 1,000 stores in the retailer’s network alone.

With 97 employees on the ground today, Infarm’s Canadian team will grow by more than 50 percent to 160 by the end of the year, working from locations in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Nova Scotia and Manitoba. 

“We’re delighted with what has been an extremely positive and successful partnership with the Sobeys family of retailers,” said Erez Galonska, CEO at Infarm. “This expansion deal represents one of the largest rollouts of any vertical farming company in North America to date as we aim to offer local, high-quality produce to people everywhere.”

Niluka Kottegoda, Vice President Customer Experience at Sobeys Inc. said, “The expansion of our exclusive partnership with Infarm demonstrates our commitment to delivering that in a technologically advanced and sustainable way. We received overwhelmingly positive feedback from our customers and our store teams about the current Infarm product grown in our stores.”

Infarm’s growing centers integrate farming units that can each save up to 10,000,000 liters of water per year compared to soil-based agriculture for similar crops, while producing the equivalent of up to 100,000 ft2 of land. In line with the company’s goal of utilizing 100 percent renewable or green-certified energy,  90 percent of electricity used throughout the Infarm network will be from green-certified sources by September 2021.

By 2025 Infarm plans to scale to 100 growing centers with a growing capacity of 3 million ft2.

Over the next five years, Canadian consumers can expect to select from a range of new Infarm produce to the current selection of herbs, leafy greens and microgreens now available in the retailer’s grocery aisles including tomatoes, strawberries, peppers, mushrooms, cut salads and even potted plants.

Infarm was founded in Berlin in 2013 by Osnat Michaeli and the brothers Erez and Guy Galonska. They developed a smart modular farming system that allows distribution of vertical farms throughout the urban environment, growing fresh produce in practically any available space.

Today, with cutting edge R&D, patented technologies and a leading multi-disciplinary team, Infarm is growing a worldwide farming network helping cities become self-sufficient in their food production, while significantly improving the safety, quality, and environmental footprint of food.

With a multinational team of 1,000 people globally, Infarm has partnered with more than 30 major food retailers including Aldi Süd, Amazon Fresh, Auchan, Carrefour, Casino, E.Leclerc, Edeka, Empire Company Ltd (Safeway, Sobeys, ThriftyFoods), Farmdrop, Intermarché, Irma, Kaufland, Kinokuniya, Kroger, Marks & Spencer, Metro, Migros, Selfridges, Selgros and Whole Foods Market. They have operations in Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the United States and Switzerland. More than 1,300 farms have been built in stores and Infarm Growing Centers, saved more than 16,000,000 gallons of water and 600,000 square feet of land, while harvesting 1,000,000+ plants monthly.