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Ocado eyes grocery supply chain shake-up with new vertical farming JV

Ocado has today (10 June) announced its involvement in a new initiative called Infinite Acres, a partnership that will lean on new technology and farming processes to shake up the grocery supply chain.

The online grocer has signed a memorandum of understanding to partner with tech-focused farming solution providers that can help tackle challenges around indoor horticulture and agriculture.

The independent joint venture also includes Netherlands-based Priva, a tech and automation systems provider to horticultural and other industries, as well as US-based 80 Acres Farms, a business involved in technology-assisted indoor growing and a multi-farm operator focused on freshly-harvested vegetables.

Infinite Acres' core mission is “to provide the best technology available to grow the highest quality produce near population centres throughout the world – including in places where year-round nutritious produce is in short supply due to climate and growing conditions or must be transported considerably long distances”.

Tim Steiner, CEO of Ocado, commented: "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. 

“Our hope ultimately is to co-locate vertical farms within or next to our customer fulfilment centres and Ocado Zoom's micro-fulfilment centres so that we can offer the very freshest and most sustainable produce that could be delivered to a customers' kitchen within an hour of it being picked."

President of 80 Acres Farms, Tisha Livingston, is the CEO of the new JV. She said the three partner companies will bring “a unique value proposition to this under-served marketplace”.

"Infinite Acres believes its integrated solutions will have a considerable impact on the profitability, and competitiveness of food service industry customers everywhere – growers, distributors, retailers, and governments – who seek the cleanest, healthy, pesticide-free produce for consumers,” Livingston remarked.

“We look forward to collaborating with other strategic partners that have the same goals for the industry."

Mike Zelkind, CEO of 80 Acres Farms, added: "Priva and 80 Acres Farms provide extensive horticulture, engineering, operational, and food industry expertise.

“Along with Ocado's predictive analytics, automation and comprehensive system development, the partnership will provide its customers with everything from state of the art facilities with uniquely developed crop recipes and the right unit economics to an option for facility management with yield guarantees, product packaging, branding, marketing, and distribution.”

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