The modular farms use IoT and machine learning technologies to improve efficiency and allow for cloud-based monitoring
The Kroger Co. is taking farm-to-table to a whole new level as it partners with European urban farming network Infarm. Modular living-produce farms installed in stores will provide customers with hydroponic produce right at the point of purchase.
The produce will grow on site at the participating locations to provide customers with fresh, sustainable produce options that don't have to be transported or stored once ready to eat.
Kroger plans to add the growing systems to 15 QFC banners, with the first two launching this month in Bellevue and Kirkland, Wash.
"Kroger believes that everyone deserves to have access to fresh, affordable and delicious food, no matter who you are, how you shop or what you like to eat," said Suzy Monford, Kroger's group VP of fresh and keynote speaker at Progressive Grocer's recent 2019 Top Women in Grocery event. "Our partnership with Infarm allows us to innovate by combining ground-breaking in-store farming technology with our passion for fresh, local produce and ecological sourcing. Kroger is excited to be first to market and offer the best of the season, and we're proud to lead the U.S. on this journey."
The hydroponic produce grown in the modular farms can vary — with nearly 30 options mentioned by Berlin-based Infarm — but some examples include basil, thyme, dill, lettuce, parsley and mint. The farms are controlled remotely through a cloud-based platform that uses machine learning to continue improving the system.
Cincinnati-based Kroger employs nearly half a million associates who serve 9 million-plus customers daily through a seamless digital shopping experience and 2,769 retail food stores under a variety of banner names. The company is No. 2 on Progressive Grocer’s 2019 Super 50 list of the top grocers in the United States.