Despite funding for vertical farms all but dropping off a cliff, Milan-based operator Planet Farms has recently announced the raise of $40 million.
A significant portion of the capital will be used to finalise the completion of a new factory located just outside Milan. Planned to be fully operational by the end of summer 2024, with a projected growth surface of 20,000 m², Planet Farms’ new facility will be one of the largest of its kind globally.
While the new factory in Italy is aimed at strengthening the company’s home market position, the company also intends to learn from the mistakes of previous vertical farming outfits and says that it intends to invest in R&D projects that will see the exploration of new applications of its technology beyond just food, specifically citing perfumery and cosmetics.
As we’ve seen most recently with Interstellar Lab's collaboration with L’Oreal, the industry is ripe for such initiatives.
Beyond Italy, Planet Farms is already testing the waters with a UK market expansion, introducing its products through supermarket chains. As Planet Farms fails to note specifically which supermarket chains it's working with, it’s possible to assume that Planet Farms has stepped in to fill the void left by previous competitors.
Previous UK vertical farming operations have shuttered or been dramatically downsized, most famously Infarm citing “escalating energy prices” as a key factor in its decision.
Apparently, Planet Farms has a different card to play, noting that another portion of the recent $40 million investment will be used to construct a new factor in North London. Expected to be operational in H2 2025, Planet Farms says that its UK factory will be “cutting edge” and optimise efficiency through a number of automated processes.
$500 million vlauation
Founded in 2017, according to Planet Farms, this new investment brings the company’s total amount raised to over $140 million and elevates the company’s valuation to more than $500 million.
No specific investors were cited in this recent round, however, the company is historically backed by Milan’s SACE, UniCredit Group, and Red Circle Investment.
Lead image via Planet Farms