Infarm, a vertical farming startup, has raised $170m in its latest funding round as investors bet on consumers wanting more locally produced and organic produce in the coming years. 

The Berlin-based company’s latest funding round was led by LGT Lightstone, and brings its funding total to $300m so far. The startup, founded in 2013, installs modular farming systems in supermarkets, grocery stores and even schools, meaning consumers can pick produce themselves from the supermarkets.

They have already won deals with big supermarkets like Marks & Spencer and Selfridges in the UK, Kroger in the US, Aldi Süd in Germany and Intermarche and Auchan in France. Infarm also has deals with Amazon Fresh in Germany, Switzerland and France.

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Erez Galonska, chief executive of Infarm said that the pandemic had accelerated people’s desire to make urgent changes to the way that we produce food.

“The coronavirus pandemic has put a global spotlight on the urgent agricultural and ecological challenges of our time,” he said. “As we scale to 5,000,000 sq ft in farming facilities across Europe, North America and Asia by 2025, this investment will help us make a truly global impact.”

The company now harvests 500,000 plants a month and says that its modular system uses 99.5% less space than soil-based agriculture, as well as 95% less water and 90% less transportation. The electricity used to power the units largely comes from renewables and the company never uses pesticides.

The company’s aim, it says, is to respond to eco-conscious consumers’ demand for locally produced, fresh produce — and nothing is more local than having the actual farm itself in your nearest supermarket.

At present, however, Infarm mainly grows herbs and leaves in its vertical farms, including basil, pak choi, coriander, thyme and rocket — as well as mushrooms. One big challenge for the company is how it moves to produce a wider range of produce.

Dharmash Mistry, from LGT Lightstone, said they were pleased to work with the company at a time when the need for sustainable food systems is becoming more critical.   

“With over $1bn of customer demand, partnerships with 17 of the top 50 global grocers, Infarm is set to revolutionise the market behind a unique ‘demand led’ modular business model.”