Last year, on the back of an $87m Series D capital raise, the company announced its first expansion into the West Coast opening the first phase of a 10-acre indoor farm in Northern California. This month, the company is doubling down on its expansion plans and entering new territories.
Gotham Greens will be opening new hydroponic greenhouses in Seagoville, Texas (outside Dallas), Monroe, Georgia (outside Atlanta), and Windsor, Colorado (outside Denver), as well as expanding its existing greenhouses in Chicago, and Providence, Rhode Island, adding up to a total of 12 state-of-the-art, climate controlled hydroponic greenhouses across eight states.
Gotham Green's hydroponic growing systems use 100% renewable electricity, and use up to 95% less water and 97% less land compared to conventional farming, according to the company, which received B-Corp Certification last year.
The company's products can be found in roughly 3,000 retail stores today, but that will soon accelerate as the new facilities come online, said Gotham Greens co-founder and CEO Viraj Puri, noting how the South is an exciting new and untapped market for the company.
"For many parts of the country, it’s difficult to get fresh, local produce all year round," Puri told FoodNavigator-USA, noting that the expansion was a necessary development for the company to meet growing demand for green-house grown produce across the US as consumers prioritize locally-grown leafy greens and vegetables.
"Gotham Greens’ new, state-of-the-art greenhouses will enable us to significantly increase store count while continuing to serve several of the country’s largest grocery retailers on a national and regional scale, including Whole Foods Market, The Kroger Co., Albertsons Companies, Sprouts Farmers Market, and many more."
In addition to its packaged leafy greens, Gotham Greens has expanded its portfolio to include refrigerated plant-based salad dressings, dips, and cooking sauces, which according to Puri, have become among the fastest-growing products in their respective categories.
"They continue to gain incremental distribution and retail sales at grocery stores across the country."
'Indoor farming provides a much-needed alternative to conventional farming practices'
From a business operations standpoint, Puri pointed out the benefits of a network of smaller, local supply chains in which goods don't require thousands of miles of transportation to reach their final destination.
"Recent global events have underscored the benefits of more localized, reliable supply chains. With so many crises at play, particularly in terms of global supply chains and climate change and the increasing frequency of natural disasters, indoor farming provides a much-needed alternative to conventional farming practices," said Puri.
As it stands today, 98% of the lettuce grown and distributed in the US comes from either California or Arizona, while less than 2% of the market is served by indoor brands, leaving a huge opportunity for indoor-grown produce to command more market share, said Puri.
"Since 98% of lettuce grown in the United States comes from California and Arizona, by the time it reaches most parts of the country, it has lost quality, taste, and nutritional value and has a much shorter shelf life. Gotham Greens’ fast-growing network of regional greenhouses not only reduces how far our salad greens travel, but also provides consumers with fresh produce in more than 45 US states, 365 days a year."
'The market can and will support multiple indoor farming companies'
Asked about the rise in competition within the indoor farming sector and the enormous amount of investment the industry has received, Puri said he believes the total addressable market for locally-grown leafy greens and fresh produce is large enough to support multiple, high-quality players.
"The indoor farming sector is experiencing a very exciting phase as evidenced by tremendous growth and investment worldwide.
"While numerous indoor farming companies are competing for grocery shelf space, only a few brands have demonstrated retail and commercial successes to date," said Puri, noting that as a 10-year veteran in the space, Gotham Greens has registered 28% year-over-year growth (compared to 1% growth for the Total Pre-Packaged Salads and Lettuce Categories), according to Nielsen, total US xAOC for the 52 weeks ending 2/26/22.
"That being said, Gotham Greens strongly believes that the market can and will support multiple indoor farming companies. The total addressable market for crops that can be grown indoors is growing significantly year over year and remains under penetrated by indoor farms," he added.
"Brands that can produce consistent and reliable supply will win with retailers and shoppers, and those that demonstrate financial sustainability will be positioned to thrive."