Rutgers, Soli Organic partner on agriculture projects

Gabrielle Saulsbery//January 14, 2022

Rutgers, Soli Organic partner on agriculture projects

Gabrielle Saulsbery//January 14, 2022

Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences launched a partnership with Soli Organic Inc., a Virginia-based controlled environment agriculture company that delivers USDA certified organic produce to more than 20,000 retailers.

Rutgers and Soli Organic will work together to select and advance the next generation of commercial organic, indoor-grown produce over the next five years. According to an announcement, Soli Organic and Rutgers experts will use state-of-the-art analytical instrumentation to analyze produce-seed genetics and identify and further optimize flavor, aroma, nutrition and yield traits for indoor cultivation.

The partners will also explore opportunities to bring to market new types of produce that, while not feasible for commercial organic outdoor cultivation, may offer ideal flavor, nutrition and yield characteristics and can be grown organically indoors.

“Soli Organic is relentless in our pursuit of technologies and partnerships that support our vision to offer our retailer partners and consumers nationwide a variety of nutrient-dense, differentiated fresh products in a manner that maximizes profitability while minimizing environmental impact,” said Tessa Pocock, chief science officer of Soli Organic, in a prepared statement.

“Our cost advantage is rooted in superior unit economics tied to growing science and operational know-how – our ‘grow-how.’ The deep expertise and insights offered by … the team at Rutgers University will help us further enhance this cost advantage over time,” she said.

James Simon, director of the Rutgers New Use Agriculture and Natural Plant Products Program, said that of the over 400,000 plant species on the planet, humans consume less than 100.

“We have not even scratched the surface of the different flavors and textures of plants,” he said. “What will be key to a sustainable future is identifying plants that offer consumers the highest nutrient density combined with flavor, texture and ‘shelf appeal’ and the lowest possible environmental impact.”

Simon said that their partnership is made with the intention of bringing products from breeding concept to produce aisles in the next five years.