BrightFarms is boosting capacity at its Chicago-area greenhouse as the pandemic-driven rise in cooking at home fuels demand for locally grown greens.
BrightFarms’ Rochelle greenhouse, which annually supplies 1 million pounds of lettuce, spinach, arugula, basil and other greens to Mariano’s and other regional grocery stores, is increasing production by 40% by adding more hydroponic ponds to the two-acre facility, CEO Steve Platt said.
BrightFarms was seeing year-over-year sales growth of about 20% before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S., but in March and April growth jumped to 40% as stay-at-home orders set in and customers flocked to grocery stores, Platt said. The at-home cooking trend has remained steady, with growth now leveled out above 30%.
“We’re seeing really great demand,” said Platt, whose company, based in Irvington, New York, has other greenhouses in Northern Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania and is building one in North Carolina. “The pandemic has supercharged that.”
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