Plenty, an indoor farming Startup has raised $200M from Former Google CEO, Eric Schmidt among others. The startup promises to deliver 350 times more yield than a regular farm. Along with Mr Schmidt, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Japanese Billionaire Masayoshi Son have led the total investment of $200M in Plenty.
Plenty was founded in 2014 as See Jane Farm by Jack Oslan, Nate Storey and Matt Barnard. Plenty is betting big on the future of indoor vertical farming. Leveraging new designs in hydroponics and an industry-changing distribution model, Plenty aims to sell locally grown heirloom fruits and vegetables harvested the same day you walk into the grocery store.
Masayoshi Son invested through SoftBank Vision Fund, while Mr Schmidt and Mr Bezos invested through their Innovation Endeavors and Bezos Expeditions firms, respectively. Because it has received funding from big industry leaders, Plenty is gaining attention quickly. On the other hand, the real question is this: What would Plenty bring to our dinner table?
Plenty promises to change the way we eat. If you step into one of their farming facilities in San Francisco, you will see vertical living walls nurturing heirloom varieties chosen for their great taste and rich nutrient value. Their food also does not include the harmful addition of pesticides, genetically modified methods and fertilizers. The farms rely on sensors and machine learning to optimize the per square feet yield.
Plenty plans to farm indoors in two to five acres urban areas. The food will be competitively priced, helped partially by an urban environment and direct access to consumers.
Plenty may offer real solutions to a food crisis that everyone else seems to be ignoring. For example, did you know that the food consumed today delivers fewer vitamins and minerals than veggies produced a hundred years ago?
Studies show that the modern farming methods have reduced nutrients consumed in a continuous manner. Health conscious consumers are also expected to pay exuberant prices for organic food, which makes it exclusive for the select few. Plenty promises to turn the table to make the food taste a lot sweeter.
Can Plenty deliver on the promise of high yield and more natural process for everyday foods? Plenty seems to provide a lot of assurance with their tested methods and innovative platform. Plenty promises to reduce the water usage in agriculture drastically. As the indoor farm environment is controlled, water can be cycled in a more efficient manner. Similarly, crop yield is protected by the indoor environment from unpredictable weather.
Additionally, Plenty will be producing food an hour away from urban settings. Currently, close to 50% agricultural produce is wasted or expires before it reaches the consumer. Plenty can cut transportation costs as well as reduce wastage. Producing food near people also allows locals to participate and local farmers to contribute to the local economy.
At the moment, Plenty platform is nothing more than a promise. The food isn’t on the table for us to taste, smell and appreciate with all senses. However, it is also a promise of healthier dinner for a busy world.