Vertical farms are growing in Canada, in part accelerated by pandemic-induced food supply chain disruptions and surging consumer demand for safe, locally produced fresh vegetables.
An early grocery retail adopter is Sobeys Inc., which partnered with Infarm in 2020 and began its national rollout with Infarm vertical farming units in Safeway and Thrifty Foods stores in B.C. Sobeys recently announced it’s expanding the Infarm vertical farming units across the country in approximately 100 stores.
On the supply side, the most noteworthy move in this area was a $65 million investment by McCain Foods in February in TruLeaf and its subsidiary, Guelph, Ont.-based GoodLeaf Farms, Canada’s largest commercial vertical farming operation . By the end of 2021, GoodLeaf is planning two more indoor vertical farms — one to serve the grocery and food service networks in Eastern Canada, and one for Western Canada
More recently a Quebec company introduced technology to support growing vertical farm operations in the province and a new vertical farming operation has just opened east of the Greater Toronto Area in Oshawa, Ont. Mighty Harvest grows leafy greens and herbs.
And demand among consumers is likely to grow according to studies on shoppers’ perceptions and willingness to pay for produce grown in vertical farm production systems. One study by the University in Illinois conducted in 2017 noted that “consumers see vertical farming as a comparable – and perhaps acceptable – form of agricultural production.”