Ocado has announced investments in two farming companies with the goal of bringing the farming process closer to consumers and increasing deliver speed.
The online grocer has formed a joint venture with vertical farming solutions companies 80 Acres Farms and Priva called Infinite Acres. The venture will provide a number of solutions to boost efficiency and sustainability for clients. Ocado expects to complete the transaction by 30 June.
The grocer has also acquired 58% of Jones Food Company, based in Scunthorpe. The largest vertical farm in Europe, it has over 5000 square metres of production and 12 kilometres of LED lights.
Vertical farming is an indoor method of farming which grows crops on a series of floors with tightly controlled conditions. Due to their higher density, they can be located nearer to customers or potentially co-located with fulfilment centres and supermarkets.
Ocado eventually hopes to co-locate vertical farms with its customer fulfilment centres and micro-fulfilment centres for Ocado Zoom so that it can deliver freshly picked crops to customers within one hour.
“We believe that our investments today in vertical farming will allow us to address fundamental consumer concerns on freshness and sustainability and build on new technologies that will revolutionise the way customers access fresh produce,” said Ocado CEO Tim Steiner.
James Lloyd-Jones, CEO of Jones Foods, said: “JFC is delighted that Ocado has chosen to partner and invest with us. We are certain that the combination of their world-leading logistics and automation systems coupled with our advanced growing technology will transform the way customers experience fresh produce – delivered fresh to their door a matter of hours from ordering.
“JFC has always been committed to minimising the environmental impact of agricultural production and we see this partnership accelerating our ambitious growth strategy to make a wider variety of vertically farmed produce available to even more customers.”