Global potato product manufacturer McCain Foods has made a strategic investment in vertical-farming technology as part of its innovation strategy.
The company has completed an investment in Canadian agricultural technology company TruLeaf Sustainable Agriculture, which develops proprietary indoor vertical-farming technology to grow leafy greens year round in an environmentally sustainable way.
Vertical farms allow for growing systems that can be located 'from the heart of an urban centre to remote communities with harsh climates', thus cutting down on transportation and environmental costs, according to TruLeaf.
McCain Foods said that it is actively engaging with entrepreneurs in developing and commercialising agri-food technologies, and that the TruLeaf investment is in direct support of McCain's innovation strategy.
"McCain has a 60-year track record of advancing agricultural practices, to the benefit of crop quality and environmental standards,” said McCain Foods' president and CEO, Max Koeune. “Over this time, we have worked closely with many research institutions, technology partners, and, of course, our global network of growers.
“We remain committed to this approach and, as such, are always looking to partner with innovative businesses like TruLeaf to continue to set new standards for environmental care and efficient crop production, through advancing agricultural technology,” added Koeune.
TruLeaf’s farms are located in close proximity to major urban centres, which allows for an environmentally sound path from farm to fork, according to its website.
The company currently sells its produce in retail and foodservice channels under the GoldLeaf brand in Atlantic Canada, from New Brunswick to Newfoundland. The McCain investment could see it grow its potential further afield.
Gregg Curwin, TruLeaf's founder and CEO, said, "We are extremely pleased to be entering this next phase of development and growth with such a strong leading global food company as McCain Foods.
“We believe this partnership will accelerate TruLeaf’s farm build-out, providing high-quality local fresh produce to more Canadians while also expanding our reach to other countries around the world," added Curwin.
Vertical farms have been used by the retail industry before. French retailer Carrefour announced plans to grow its first vertical garden in an outlet in the Paris region last July.
The garden is cultivated by using the aeroponics process, in which plants are grown without the use of soil.
The retailer previously brought its farm within arm’s reach when it opened its first urban garden in April 2017, on the roof of the Villiersen-Bière hypermarket, in the Paris region, in partnership with the Bougainville de Brie-Comte-Robert farming college.
In the UK, Growing Underground has taken the urban farming concept to the next level by growing fresh microgreens and salad leaves 33 metres below the bustling streets of south-west London.
The company uses hydroponic systems and LED technology to grow its crops year round in a pesticide-free environment, supplying retailers such as Marks & Spencer, Ocado and Whole Foods Market.
© 2018 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Kevin Duggan. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.