Urban farming startup Infarm gets funding from Qatar wealth fund
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Urban farming startup Infarm gets funding from Qatar wealth fund

Urban farming startup Infarm gets funding from Qatar wealth fund

The investment will be used to expand to more fruits and vegetables and open its first centre in Qatar in 2023

Indoor farming startup Infarm raised an extra $200m from investors including the Qatar Investment Authority to fund a push into new markets such as the Middle East as part of a global expansion.

Infarm grows products like salad greens and herbs in indoor centres in Europe, North America and Japan, and supplies retailers like Amazon Fresh, Metro AG and Marks & Spencer Group. The Amsterdam-headquartered company plans to use the new funding to expand to more fruit and vegetables and to open its first centre in Qatar in 2023 as it enters new markets in the Middle East and Asia-Pacific.

Growing crops on vertically stacked shelves in cities has gained traction as the Covid pandemic snarled supply chains and brought food security to the fore, especially in nations that import most of their food. It uses less space, water and pesticides than conventional farming. The food can also be grown closer to consumers, reducing transport needs, but can be much more energy intensive.

Infarm said it has raised more than $500m — ranking it among the best-funded vertical farming companies — and has a valuation of more than $1bn.

Qatar is one of the most water-stressed countries in the world, making it a challenge to grow food. The Middle East region has stepped up food-production plans in recent years, targeting everything from growing rice in the desert to researching how to make food in space and other extreme climates.

“We see vertical farming as a way to enhance food security in every part of the world,” Mansoor bin Ebrahim Al-Mahmoud, chief executive officer of QIA, which has assets estimated at roughly $360bn, said in a statement. The growing centre would “contribute to Qatar’s own food security and economic diversification,” he said.

More on Infarm’s plans:

* The company wants to expand its presence to 100 growing centres in 20 countries by 2030
* Infarm already has commercial operations across 11 nations
* It is targeting harvesting tomatoes, strawberries and other fruits besides produce like herbs and salads at the Qatar centre

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