5 produce distributors embracing tech innovation that you should know about
An increasingly large body of research continues to suggest that a variety of factors including urbanization and climate change are impacting the amount and viability of agricultural land, both globally and domestically.
Tech advancements such as solar energy, wind energy, and efficient water management are helping produce distributors become more environmentally friendly while reducing cost.
This problem, however, has created a space for innovation in the tech world and is spurring new business strategies to address the problems associated with the loss of land.
Issues ranging from food scarcity, nutritional value, and sourcing locally are all being considered by an array of companies that seek to find solutions to the world’s environmental and social questions, especially produce distributors and growers.
Keep an eye on these fresh fruit and vegetable growers, wholesalers and distributors in the years to come. As practices such as urban farming and composting become more mainstream, the following names will come even further to the forefront as leaders in the fresh produce and food retail industry.
1. Freight Farms
Freight Farms out of Boston, Massachusetts and led by CEO Brad McNamara and President Jon Friedman, produces what they have named the “Leafy Green Machine.” The company sells 40’ x 8’ x 9.5’ shipping containers that are outfitted to grow high volume, consistent harvests year-round.
The company also offers remote monitoring of what is grown inside the containers, as well as “Farm Camp” training and even starts them off with seeds and nutrients. The shape of the container also has made it attractive to those who are interested in farming in tight, urban areas that are far away from produce sources and has only continued to fuel the interest in the local food movement.
2. Gotham Greens
Founded in Brooklyn, New York in 2009, Gotham Greens focuses on climate controlled, rooftop green houses. Since 2009, Gotham Greens has built and oversees over 170,000 square feet of green house space in 4 locations divided between New York and Chicago.
The company boasts pesticide-free produce, which includes a variety of lettuces, herbs, and tomatoes. Since its inception, Gotham Greens has garnered a variety of awards including the Grand Prize in the New York Green Business competition (2009) and the Environmental Excellence Award in 2013 awarded by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for their commitment to sustainability and innovation.
3. Testa Produce
Another company located out of Chicago is Testa Produce. Founded in 1912, Testa Produce prides itself on quality service and locally grown products. All food, which includes fruits, vegetables, flowers, and baked goods, are stored in Leed Certified Platinum Buildings.
The company also ensures that customers be given the option to buy
organic products. After its over-100 year presence in Chicago, Testa has garnered clients like Del Monte, Roland, and Organic Family. The company is also the owner of the first free standing wind turbine in the city as well as green roofs , which President Peter Testa claims will allow them to produce electricity and collect rainwater for their operations.
Aerofarms claims to be transformation modern agriculture through
vertical farming. Since 2004, Aerofarms has developed a process that grows produce with 95% less water than field farmer food and yields 75 times more food per square acre annually.
The produce is grown without sunlight or soil under LED lighting in completely temperature-controlled environments through aeroponic technology. The method leads to shorter harvest cycles, more predictable results, and lessened environmental impact. Originally located in Newark, New Jersey, the company hopes to begin growing and selling their
produce in the New York metropolitan area.
SproutsIO, located in Detroit, Michigan, provides a system that allows the user to grow fruits and vegetables indoors with help from an app that learns about the user. Like Aerofarms, SproutsIO does not use soil. Instead, the system runs on about half the battery of a typical laptop, uses 2% of the water, and 40% of the nutrients as typical farming. The hydroculture system, which provides “personal produce,” is able to grow produce two to three times faster than conventional agriculture. The system, which resembles a small desk lamp is portable, dishwasher safe, and provides plug-and-play
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