U.S. greenhouse company and Catalyst portfolio company BrightFarms says there is huge untapped potential in the locally grown produce market and believes the rapidly growing category is roughly where the organic sector was around 15 years ago.
While Catalyst portfolio company BrightFarms limits the number of people in its facilities for food safety reasons, it recently embarked on a virtual reality-driven retail program that allows shoppers to explore operations in the next most personable manner. Now through the end of the year, BrightFarms will set up retail displays during weekends at which shoppers can take a virtual tour of operations and taste the product.
Catalyst-backed BrightFarms recently harvested the first crop from its new 120,000-square-foot indoor greenhouse facility in Wilmington, Ohio. The company invited regional and state officials to the first harvest at the greenhouse located 45 minutes southeast of Dayton to demonstrate the economic impact the new greenhouse will have in the state. While local is the number one demand driver of produce, supermarkets have trouble sourcing the quantity they need, so BrightFarms aims to supply local produce at a commercial scale. The greenhouse is state-of-the-art in both its sustainability and production.
Catalyst-backed BrightFarms’ locally-grown lettuce and basil are currently in 650 stores including Walmart, Kroger, Ahold, and Albertsons locations. In two years, the brand has grown its distribution by 225% reaching a household penetration of 1.5 million.
Indoor farming startup BrightFarms Inc. raised $55 million in new funding to open more hydroponic greenhouses across the U.S. as it seeks to capitalize on rising demand for locally grown food. The Series D round is led by Cox Enterprises Inc. and includes funding from existing investors Catalyst Investors, WP Global Partners and NGEN Partners.
Catalyst-backed BrightFarms is expanding its operations to Ohio, opening a $10 million Greater Cincinnati facility to supply large grocery chains in the region. The Wilmington greenhouse is BrightFarms’ fourth, behind the original concept greenhouse in Pennsylvania, one in Northern Virginia and one in Rochelle.
Catalyst-backed BrightFarms decided to offer a virtual reality field trip experience to local schools in honor of Earth Day, making it possible for Megan Rierdon, a special education teacher at Milwaukee’s 53rd Street School, to take her students with special needs on field trips.
Catalyst portfolio company BrightFarms is gearing up for the opening of its Wilmington, Ohio greenhouse in July, giving consumers in Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus access to year-round locally grown produce.
Catalyst-backed BrightFarms announced its fifth production greenhouse will be built in Abilene, Texas. The company has production facilities in Rochelle, Ill., Bucks County, Pa., and Culpepper County, Va. A Wilmington, Ohio, facility is scheduled to open in July.
Catalyst Investors’ portfolio company BrightFarms has expanded its product line. The new item began shipping in January, and all stores that carry BrightFarms product will have Sunny Crunch. BrightFarms supplies hundreds of locations in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Illinois and Wisconsin from greenhouses in Rochelle, Ill., Culpepper County, Va., and Bucks County, Pa. Retail customers include Walmart, Giant and Roundy’s.
The company plans to launch more products this spring.