AeroFarms continues Middle East expansion

Kimberly Redmond//February 1, 2023

AeroFarms continues Middle East expansion

Kimberly Redmond//February 1, 2023

Sustainable indoor agriculture company AeroFarms is continuing efforts to expand in the Middle East.

In a Feb. 1 press release, the Newark-based business said it signed a joint venture agreement with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) to establish a company in the capital city of Riyadh to build and operate commercial indoor vertical farms in the country as well as the wider Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

As part of the venture, the state-of-the art facilities will be able to utilize AeroFarms’ proprietary smart agriculture technology platform, AgTech, to produce high-quality crops year-round.

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By using AgTech, indoor vertical farms can achieve up to 390 times greater productivity per square meter annually compared with traditional field farming while using up to 95% less water and zero pesticides, according to AeroFarms.

AeroFarms corporate headquarters in Newark

The joint venture plans to launch several indoor farms in the next few years, starting with a site in Saudi Arabia that is expected to be the largest indoor vertical farm of its kind in the MENA region and will have an annual production capacity of up to 1.1 million kilos of agricultural crop, the announcement said.

The partnership also aligns with PIF’s strategy to grow and diversify the Saudi economy by focusing on developing and enabling the capabilities of key sectors, including food and agriculture, as a way to improve trade balance, localize technologies and develop industries. As part of that initiative, PIF is investing to localize new agricultural technologies that can benefit the local private sector, expanding its market reach and positioning Saudi Arabia as a leader in vertical farming.

Majed AlAssaf, head of consumer goods and retail, MENA Investments Division at PIF, said the agreement with AeroFarms will ultimately boost “regional reliance on locally produced, high-quality crops grown in a sustainable way using the latest technologies.”

AlAssaf added, “PIF is enabling the growth of the food and agriculture sector and localizing technology that can benefit private sector industry participants.”

David Rosenberg, AeroFarms co-founder and chief executive officer, said, “We are excited to partner with PIF to build our first large-scale commercial farm in Saudi Arabia, where the growing conditions are challenging with limited access to fresh water and arable land, and we envision building together smart indoor vertical farms throughout the broader MENA region.”

Known for its specialty greens that are pesticide free and ready to eat, AeroFarms has deals with major retailers, such as Amazon Fresh, Walmart, Whole Foods Market and The Fresh Market, as well as multiyear strategic partnerships with entities ranging from government agencies to major Fortune 500 companies to solve agriculture supply chain needs.

AeroFarms has also been working to increase consumer availability of sustainably grown leafy greens and microgreens while scaling farming operations. As part of that objective, it opened two new indoor vertical farms over the past year — an aeroponic smart farm in Danville, Va., and a research and development farm in Abu Dhabi.

The joint venture with PIF comes about three months after AeroFarms announced a partnership with the Qatar Free Zones Authority (QFZA) and Doha Venture Capital (DVC) to build a facility that aims to decrease the country’s reliance on imports by making high-quality food products more readily available throughout the year.