Fifth Season

Assembly Line

Next to the last steel mill in town, a robotic farm grows backed by Pritzker billions

Date:

Author: Rebecca Fannin

Vertical: Agriculture

Organizations: Fifth Season, Kroger

“Our smart manufacturing facility improves the yield, taste and texture of the vegetables, and does that with 95% less water, 95% less land, and uses no pesticides or chemicals,” said Webb, who is 33. Fifth Season’s automated proprietary system grows fresh produce year-round indoors in vertical trays, relying on artificial intelligence, robotics and data to control light, water and nutrients, and harvest leafy greens.

Fifth Season is competing in a capital intensive, highly fragmented market with more than 2,000, mostly smaller farms and a handful of larger scale players. Among the largest is San Francisco-based Plenty Unlimited, which recently inked $400 million in strategic funding from Walmart and plans to sell its fresh produce from its Compton facility at the retailer’s California stores. Another major rival is AeroFarms in Newark, New Jersey, which scrapped a SPAC deal to go public in October 2021 and is continuing to build out capacity at a Danville, Virginia farm.

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