In September 2022, Plenty Unlimited Inc. announced it had secured up to 120 acres of land near Richmond, Virginia, USA, to build ‘the largest, most advanced indoor vertical farm campus in the world’. Now, to advance that objective, the firm has entered into a strategic real estate alliance with commercial real estate investment trust ‘Realty Income’.
Under the terms of the agreement, Realty Income will acquire and provide development funding for properties that will house Plenty’s indoor farms. The properties will be leased back to Plenty under long-term net leases. The agreement provides for up to US$1 billion of development opportunities.
As the initial transaction of the new alliance, Realty Income has committed to purchasing the land and funding the development of the first farm in Plenty’s indoor vertical farm campus. Plenty expects the future multi-farm campus to deliver more than 20 million pounds (1.8m kgs) of produce across multiple crops annually.
“We are pleased to announce this strategic relationship with Plenty – whose sustainable business practices align with Realty Income’s values, which include giving more than we take in our community and environment,” said Sumit Roy, Realty Income’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “Our entry into agriculture technology provides another potential growth opportunity for our company. Over time, we aspire to expand our collaboration with Plenty internationally in markets of mutual interest.”
The first farm to be developed on the campus will grow strawberries with Plenty partner Driscoll’s and initially serve the Northeast market. This will be the first farm in the world to grow indoor, vertically farmed berries at scale. It has been designed to grow more than 4 million pounds (1.8m kg) of strawberries annually.
“This farm will combine Driscoll’s patented berry varieties with Plenty’s patented indoor vertical farming technology,” said J. Miles Reiter, Driscoll’s Chairman and CEO. “We are excited to take the next step in the journey to understand what it takes to bring fresh, flavourful berries locally grown all year-round.”
Plenty already supplies leading grocers on the West Coast and will further expand its California footprint to include Walmart, which is also an equity investor in the company, when it launches its Compton farm in Los Angeles County.
“Scale is a critical component of advancing indoor farming’s role as a core contributor to our global food supply. Teaming up with Realty Income is a significant step forward in accelerating the deployment of our farms with vertical farm facilities that are purpose-built to support Plenty’s proprietary growing technology,” said Arama Kukutai, Plenty’s Chief Executive Officer. “The predictability and positive unit economics of Plenty’s farms make it possible for us to utilise more traditional forms of funding, such as this strategic alliance with Realty Income. This represents an advancement in the way indoor farming assets are capitalised and paves the way for their development as an asset class.”