- Minnesota-based greenhouse grower Revol Greens raised $68 million in a funding round led by Equilibrium Capital, according to a press release. This capital infusion brings the company’s total funding to $215 million.
- The financial support will be used to open a third lettuce greenhouse in Texas, which will be the largest in the world at 20 acres with the ability to expand to 80 acres total. This announcement follows Revol’s recent expansion in Minnesota, along with a new facility in California.
- According to its CEO Mark Schulze, this new round of funding will make the greens farming production into the world’s largest indoor lettuce producer by the end of next year. It will have greater ability to influence the $20 billion salad and lettuce market, which has been hurt by recalls and contamination.
Operating a new Texas greenhouse will bring initially Revol Greens’ annual production to 33 million pounds of fresh greens, helping it capitalize on a particularly lucrative crop in the United States. According to the USDA, lettuce is one of the top 10 most valuable crops for the United States, with a farm gate value of more than $2.5 billion in the United States in 2017.
The company plans to make its products available to regional customers through national retailers. In July, the company debuted Romaine Twins, Green Leaf Crunch and Power Up Blend in grocery stores to add to its list of products which include arugula, spring mix and baby romaine, according to Food Navigator.
While lettuce is a popular crop, it is plagued by major E.coli and salmonella outbreaks and is known to use a substantial amount of water in areas that are drought-prone. The majority of lettuce in the U.S. is grown in Arizona and California.
Revol Greens is investing in greenhouses to address these persistent problems. The company said its facilities use 90% less water than traditional field agriculture. And the irrigation water that is used is UV-sterilized rainwater and snowmelt from its greenhouse roof. In addition to sustainable water use, these indoor growing facilities are climate-controlled, solar-powered and are not subjected to the contaminated irrigation runoff of traditional farms. The Star Tribune reported that workers test irrigation water daily to ensure it’s free of harmful bacteria.
Greenhouse growing allows for produce to be grown sustainably and locally, two trends that are currently driving the food space. AppHarvest is another competitor in the space that has raised $150 million over the last two years and is looking to operate a 2.76 million square-foot-facility where it will initially start growing non-GMO tomatoes. There is also Gotham Greens and several retailers, including Target and Whole Foods, that have launched urban greenhouses, rooftop gardens and hydroponic operations in order to bring produce closer to the consumer.
Consumers increasingly care about how their food is produced, both in terms of sustainability as well as where and how it's grown. Simultaneously, the world is faced with a reality that it will require a 50% to 100% increase in food production by 2050 to feed people, according to the World Economic Forum. These two realities position greenhouses like the one from Revol Greens to play a larger role going forward with their ability to produce more produce per acre than traditional open-field agriculture and lowering transportation costs, thereby enabling regional production that can increase food security and compete against foreign imports.