As a way to meet growing demand for its wildly popular, sustainably grown premium strawberries, Jersey City-based vertical indoor grower Oishii will begin using robots to assist with farming tasks.
In a May 31 press release, Oishii announced a strategic partnership with Japanese industrial robotics company Yaskawa Electric Corp. to develop and introduce advanced automation solutions to optimize vertical farming methods and scale output.
According to the companies, a series of Yaskawa’s industrial robotic arms will work in concert with Oishii’s infrastructure, technology and urban farmers to harvest strawberries at the peak of freshness.
When paired with Oishii’s intelligent management systems – which include algorithms, energy monitors and environmental controls – Yaskawa’s technology will further reduce food, energy and water waste, creating a more efficient indoor farm, the companies said.
Founded in 2016, Oishii – which means “delicious” in Japanese – aims to transform agriculture through vertical farming, relying on advanced robotics combined with traditional farming methods.
The company now operates three indoor vertical farms – one in Los Angeles and two in New Jersey, including its year-old 74,000-square-foot flagship in Jersey City.
According to Oishii, introducing advanced automation across all of its farm facilities will enable the company to “meet the substantial demand” for vertically farmed strawberries and accelerate plans to scale globally.
Hiroki Koga, Oishii’s chief executive officer and co-founder, said, “Yaskawa is one of the most respected names in industrial robotics today. Like Oishii, they are guided by the pursuit of quality and believe technology can solve some of the world’s most pressing issues.”
He went on to say, “We’re honored to partner with a company that is invested in our mission to reinvent the future of agriculture. Together, we will deliver forward-looking solutions to bring clean, delicious produce to more people.”
In a statement, Yaskawa said, “A plant factory is a combination of agricultural technology and industrial technology that leads to a safe and secure supply to the consumer market, stable production by avoiding natural disasters, and the resolution of labor shortages. Through this partnership with Oishii, we will contribute to the realization of a sustainable society in the agricultural and food fields.”
The alliance comes a few months after Oishii introduced a brand new strawberry, the Koyo Berry, which joined the popular Omakase Berry as the second varietal grown in its state-of-the-art indoor commercial vertical farms.
The company also said it is in development on new types of flowering produce.