BrightFarms CEO Steve Platt and Cox Enterprises VP Steven Bradley will kick off the February 28 – March 1, 2022 edition of Indoor Ag-Con with the opening morning keynote address. Platt and Bradley will share how BrightFarms and Cox are working together. Below is a Q&A with Steve, in which he tells more about BrightFarms’ future plans and goals.
Cox Enterprises, which had a majority stake in your company since 2020, acquired BrightFarms earlier this year as part of its stated mission to build a healthier, more sustainable future. What attracted Cox to Bright Farms initially?
The mission of Cox Cleantech aligns with BrightFarms’ mission to improve the health of Americans and the planet with fresher, sustainably grown local food. BrightFarms has been a leader in indoor farming since 2013, building out a decentralized network of local farms. Our demonstrated ability to replicate our model while developing deep partnerships with retailers was unique to the indoor farming industry. Since investing in 2018, Cox has been a fantastic partner and we’re now proud to be a fully owned subsidiary of the company.
BrightFarms has expansion plans designed to bring local indoor leafy greens to more than 2/3 of the US by 2025. Can you share more about how you hope to achieve this goal?
We’re expanding our footprint and capacity with much larger farms ― 10-40-acre greenhouses that can serve as a complete salad category solution for retailers. We predict that in 10 years, 50% of leafy greens nationwide will be sourced from indoor farms, and BrightFarms will be a big part of that growth. We are poised for massive growth in the coming years as we scale across the country. It’s an exciting time to be in the business of indoor farming.
What differentiates BrightFarms’ growing methods and services from others in the space?
We have a proven, scalable model and are developing proprietary technology, called BrightOS, to support everything we do, from growing the plants themselves to staying on top of food safety and leveraging greenhouse supply and retailer demand. Our experience and success in the market set us apart from many other indoor farming companies still establishing their technology, footprint, or go-to-market strategy. We are also the first company to be backed by a blue-chip company, Cox Enterprises, that is wholly supportive of our model and growth.
This year, BrightFarms also announced larger investments in R&D including the creation of a new R&D hub, BrightLabs. Could you share a little about why you created it and what the BrightLabs team is working on?
In 2021, we brought on our VP of Agriculture & Science, Dr. Matt Lingard, who heads up our R&D and food safety programs. Matt is building a team that will focus on delivering the highest quality complete salad program in the industry.