Empire's family of brands has partnered with in-store farming technology company Infarm to add vertical farming units to select Sobeys, Safeway and Thrifty Foods stores in Canada. The first stand-alone ecosystems will launch this spring at two Safeway stores in Vancouver, British Columbia, followed by additional stores in seven Canadian cities: Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria and Winnipeg.
"Our goal at Empire is to be the fastest-growing and most innovative retailer in Canada. As we strive to achieve that goal, we continuously seek out first-to-market opportunities," said Niluka Kottegoda, VP customer experience at Stellarton, Nova Scotia-based Sobeys Inc. "Our partnership with Infarm is unique in Canada and offers our customers a world-leading urban farming solution. The products we will offer in store are unique to customers in urban communities. We're excited to test and learn with our customers along the way."
The in-store farms use machine learning and AI technology to produce fresh, nutritious and flavorful produce year-round without the use of chemical pesticides. The vertical farms use 95% less water, 90% less transportation and 75% less fertilizer than industrial agriculture does.
Infarm currently operates in the United States — through its partnership with Kroger at some QFC banner stores in Washington — Denmark, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the United Kingdom and Switzerland.
"Our partnership with Empire builds upon our vision to grow a resilient ecosystem that can help feed people living in cities around the world by 2050, while improving the environmental footprint of our food," said Erez Galonska, co-founder and CEO of Berlin, Germany-based Infarm. "For example, through vertical farming, we can introduce plants to markets that were previously unavailable because they were too delicate to be transported. We're proud to partner with Empire to share the Infarm revolution with Canadians."