Arugula, baby butter and other leafy greens grow in floor-to-ceiling rows at this indoor farm on the Bowery. The company also sells rotating products based on season, called the “Farmer’s Selection.”

Melissa Repko | CNBC Money

The Bowery, a vertical farming company that grows crops indoors, is getting more shelf space amazonWhole Foods struck a deal with the company to triple the number of stores where its salad kits can be found. Bowery’s salad kits and vegetable picks are currently sold in 50 Whole Foods Market stores in the Northeast. The expansion will bring the number of Whole Foods Market stores to 150 in the North Atlantic, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.

The Bowery initially hit the market with a variety of leafy greens, but started selling ready-to-eat salad kits last September.

“Demand for ready-to-eat, planet-friendly meals is booming,” said Matt Williams, Bowery’s chief sales officer, in a statement announcing the deal.

Salad sets will be available in three flavors, including Zesty Caesar, Avocado Ranch and Balsamic Vinaigrette. The company is adding compostable forks to salad kits, and the Whole Foods deal includes expanding the presence of its core products, including basil, baby lettuce, baby butter, crispy leaves and baby kale.

Bowery, ranked No. 46 on the 2023 CNBC Disruptor 50 list, currently sells its vegetable and salad kits via e-commerce in more than 1,900 stores. The company bills itself as the largest vertical farming company in the U.S., and has distribution deals with national food retailers like Walmart, Giant, Albertsons, Shoprite, and specialty independent brands like DeCicco & Sons, Westside Market, and Brooklyn Fare. Its products are also sold through resellers such as Baldor and Four Seasons, as well as e-commerce grocer FreshDirect.

Last week, Bowery announced the expansion of its salad kits in partnership with Amazon Fresh, the retail giant’s online and brick-and-mortar grocer (operating in nine states), offering Prime members same-day delivery and pickup at select locations. A Bowery spokesperson said the Amazon Fresh deal will expand its product offering on the East Coast, including the Southeast and Florida, and in the coming weeks expand delivery from Virginia to Tennessee, North Carolina (including Charlotte), the Atlanta area, and Florida, Jacksonville and Miami.

The deal comes amid challenges for both vertical farming and Amazon’s efforts to expand its grocery business.

Amazon earlier this year closed several Fresh supermarkets and Go convenience stores it deemed “low growth potential” as part of the company’s broader cost-cutting strategy. Store closures resulted in a $720 million impairment charge. Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said on an earnings call in February that the retailer is pausing its fresh store expansion to examine the business and that Amazon is looking for a store model that resonates with customers and that “we like the economics.”

“When we do find this equation, we will expand it more broadly,” Jassy said.

Meanwhile, the vertical farming industry has been under pressure, like many previously ambitious, venture-funded start-ups. Indoor farming companies AeroFarms and Appharvest have both recently filed for bankruptcy, with the latter filing for bankruptcy on Monday. According to PitchBook, vertical farming deals are down 91% year-over-year through the first quarter of 2023.

How America's Love for Frozen Food Is Stressing the Critical Refrigerated Supply Chain


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *