Under the arrangement, Crop One Holdings will build a new 130,000 square foot facility in the United Arab Emirates and bring on three new US farms to produce three tons of herbicide- and pesticide-free produce daily that will be served in 105 airlines and 25 airport lounges as soon as December 2019.
Construction on the UAE facility is slated to begin in November 2018 and if all goes according to plan will take one year to complete. At that point, Crop One claims it will be the largest vertical farm, producing a total of 5.3 tons of leafy greens daily.
The deal not only expands Crop One’s production capabilities, but marks a dramatic increase in its distribution from the 38 supermarkets and home delivery services in the Boston Metropolitan area where it currently delivers under the FreshBox Farm brand.
The rapid upgrade is possible in part due to Crop One’s “proven model at scale, which enables us to produce the highest quality greens at a quarter of the costs of other major vertical farm operators and with 20% to 60% higher yields,” Crop One CEO Sonia Lo said in an announcement about the deal.
According to the company’s website, Crop One grows food hydroponically “with unique formulas for each plant” that are “based on over 500,000 data points, for maximum growth.”
The patented technology efficiently uses only 100 gallons of water and 320 square feet of land to produce the same amount of leafy greens as can be produced on 827,640 square feet with 250, 000 gallons of water, according to Crop One. In addition, it claims, this can all be done with only 25% of the capital cost of traditional farming.
In addition, because the vertical farms can be constructed in remote locations and extreme climates, it can reduce emissions associated with transportation and deliver produce within hours of harvest – helping to maintain its nutritional value, according to the company.
Increasing interest in vertical farming
The deal also is notable because it is the second major investment in hydroponic farming in as many months.
Urban greenhouse developer Gotham Greens earlier this month announced it secured $29 million in series C equity funding. The money will go towards expanding distribution as well as enhancing research and development into controlled environments, according to the company.