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Sobeys Increases Access to Vertically Farmed Produce

Infarm to increase production volume in Canada more than sevenfold
Marian Zboraj, Progressive Grocer
Sobeys Increases Access to Vertically Farmed Produce
An Infarm Growing Center with multiple state-of-the-art production modules.

Vertical farming is climbing northward. Canadian retailer Sobeys Inc. has expanded its agreement with vertical farming company Infarm to accelerate the availability and distribution of fresh produce to an additional four of Canada's 10 provinces by 2023. 

The agreement builds on the two companies' initial partnership, launched in 2020 to offer locally grown produce to Sobeys consumers.

As part of the latest deal, Infarm will construct new Infarm Growing Centers growth, production and distribution hubs with high-capacity vertical farms at sites in Calgary, Alberta; Halifax, Nova Scotia; and Winnipeg, Manitoba, with Hamilton, Ontario, near Toronto, planned to host the location for the largest Infarm Growing Center in North America, with a growing capacity of 37,000 square feet.

"We received overwhelmingly positive feedback from our customers and our store teams about the current Infarm product grown in our stores," said Niluka Kottegoda, VP of customer experience at Sobeys. "We are thrilled to expand into the Infarm Growing Centers as they allow us to exponentially offer these great local products to a multitude of communities across Canada all year round."

In combination with existing Infarm Growing Centers in Vancouver and Victoria/Vancouver Island, in British Columbia, the agreement allows Infarm to increase production volume in Canada more than sevenfold. The deal will supply more than 1,000 stores in the retailer's network alone.

"We are passionate about bringing Canadian families the best, freshest, most delicious produce every single day,” said Kottegoda. “The expansion of our exclusive partnership with Infarm demonstrates our commitment to delivering that in a technologically advanced and sustainable way."

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 at the retailer, including tomatoes, strawberries, peppers, mushrooms, convenient cut salads and even potted plants. By 2025, Infarm plans to scale to 100 growing centers, with a growing capacity of 3 million square feet.

"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."

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

Infarm was founded in Berlin in 2013. Today, the company has created a worldwide farming network helping cities become self-sufficient in their food production. Last year, Infarm partnered with Whole Foods Market to offer customers a range of fresh produce in two of its London stores. 

Based in Stellarton, Nova Scotia, Empire Co. Ltd. is a Canadian company with key businesses in food retailing through its wholly owned Sobeys chain and related real estate. Sobeys is No. 22 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer's 2021 list of the top food retailers in North America. Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods is No. 26 on PG's list, while its parent company, Seattle-based Amazon, is No. 2.

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