Walmart has made an investment in and entered a strategic partnership with Plenty Unlimited, an indoor vertical farming company. The companies will work together to help ensure Walmart has access to fresh produce year-round while also boosting the retailer’s sustainability efforts.
The agreement allows Walmart to source leafy greens for all its California stores from Plenty’s Compton, Calif. farm beginning later in 2022. Plenty’s crops are pesticide-free and come in 100% recycled packaging, while the vertical farms’ proximity to urban centers help reduce the pollution associated with transportation.
“At Walmart, we are focused on identifying and investing in innovative food solutions to bring our customers the freshest, highest-quality foods at the best prices,” said Charles Redfield, Chief Merchandising Officer at Walmart U.S. in a statement. “We believe Plenty is a proven leader in a new era of agriculture, one that offers pesticide-free, peak-flavor produce to shoppers every day of the year. This partnership not only accelerates agricultural innovation but reinforces our commitment to sustainability by delivering a new category of fresh that is good for people and the planet.”
Walmart’s investment is part of a wider $400 million Series E funding round for Plenty, and also includes Walmart gaining a seat on Plenty’s Board of Directors. The funds will be used to help Plenty continue developing its operations, which include engineering, software and sustainable crop science that let the company grow multiple crops while using a single platform to more efficiently use water and land.
“Plenty’s unique farming system unlocks industry-leading crop versatility and unit economics by enabling indoor growing year round,” said Arama Kukutai, CEO at Plenty in a statement. “Our farms can be sited anywhere allowing us to put fresh fruits, greens and vegetables on shelf at all times, at speed, for maximum freshness. As a long-time market leader in retail innovation, Walmart is an ideal partner to test and scale access to our quality produce for their customers.”
The partnerships builds on the launch of Walmart’s “Built for Better” platform in September 2021. The tool highlights healthier, more sustainable products on the retailers’ ecommerce sites, with the goal of setting standards for “promoting personal well-being and reducing our impact on the environment,” according to Jane Ewing, SVP Sustainability for Walmart.