Walmart Just Announced a Major Upgrade to This Department
As America's most trusted grocery store, Walmart is known for its everyday low prices on grocery items ranging from frozen foods to fruits and vegetables. Now, America's largest retailer is acting to make sure that its produce is not only affordable but also more flavorful and sustainable.
Walmart announced on Tuesday that it had signed an agreement (subject to regulatory approval) to invest in Plenty, a vertical farming company that grows greens indoors. Plenty, which is based in San Francisco, will begin providing leafy greens to Walmart's California stores later this year from its new vertical farm in Compton.
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Advocates of vertical farming highlight its sustainability, as it uses less soil and water than traditional outdoor farming. Unlike greenhouses, Plenty's indoor farming system has the ability to grow multiple crops on one vertical platform throughout the year. Additionally, the crops aren't impacted by the unpredictability of drought, extreme weather, or pests.
"We believe Plenty is a proven leader in a new era of agriculture, one that offers pesticide-free, peak-flavor produce to shoppers every day of the year," Charles Redfield, Walmart U.S. chief merchandising officer, said in a statement. "This partnership not only accelerates agricultural innovation, but reinforces our commitment to sustainability, by delivering a new category of fresh that is good for people and the planet."
According to CEO Arama Kukutai, Plenty's farms can be installed anywhere in the country, including urban areas. In fact, Plenty is currently on track to open a vertical farm later this year in Compton, Calif. It is being touted as "the world's highest output, vertical, indoor farm."
While vertical farming technology is still relatively new, it could prove to be particularly impactful in urban areas, where farms are typically not present, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. "Generally, fresh produce grown in vertical farms travels only a few miles to reach grocery store shelves compared to conventional produce, which can travel thousands of miles by truck or plane," the agency explained in a blog post.
In addition to vertical plant towers, Plenty's technology features both LED lights and robots. According to CNN, these machines have the ability to "plant, feed, and harvest crops."
For more Walmart news, check out 6 Ways to Save Money on Groceries at Walmart Right Now.