GUELPH, ON,- GoodLeaf Farms, Canada's first and largest commercial indoor vertical farm operation, has closed a successful financing round that will fuel expansion of its technology-driven, innovative indoor vertical farms into Eastern and Western Canada.
The $150-million capital raise includes a further investment from McCain Foods and a new partnership with Power Sustainable Lios — a specialized agri-food investor that supports operators across the food value chain in accelerating growth initiatives that foster a more sustainable and resilient food system. With this financing in place, GoodLeaf will establish a national footprint with new farms in Calgary and in the Montreal area alongside its existing fully automated, 50,000-square-foot farm in Guelph, Ont.
The national expansion will create up to 140 new jobs (70 in each market), many of which are skilled positions, and build on the more than 500 grocery retailers and food service outlets in Ontario that currently offer GoodLeaf products.
"Adding one of North America's most sophisticated agri-food investors to our team alongside McCain, a global food giant, greatly strengthens GoodLeaf's position as the leader in vertical farming in Canada," says Barry Murchie, Chief Executive Officer of GoodLeaf Farms. "Together, we are driving sustainable and innovative agriculture technology that is revolutionizing the way we grow food in Canada. Farming indoors frees us from the limitations of Canadian seasons and supports the harvesting of a superior product all year long that tastes garden fresh."
"GoodLeaf is the leader in Canadian vertical farming, with best-in-class commercial operations, industry-leading food safety practices, and a strong food-first executive team," says Jonathan Belair, Managing Partner of Power Sustainable Lios. "In tandem with its unique strategic partner, McCain Foods, GoodLeaf is ideally positioned to execute a pan-Canadian strategy, providing reliable and locally grown, nutritious, leafy baby greens and microgreens to consumers across the country, year-round."
In a food sector that is dominated by imports — as much as 90 per cent of the leafy greens consumed by Canadians are imported from the southwestern United States — GoodLeaf provides a local source of nutrient-dense, garden-fresh microgreens and baby greens for Canadian consumers year-round.
GoodLeaf's high-tech, climate-controlled farms use an intricate system of hydroponics with traditional ebb-and-flood watering to feed nutrient-rich water to the plants, and specialized LED lights that are engineered to mimic the spring sun — ideal conditions for plants to maximize photosynthesis. This helps intensify land use by supporting the harvest of more than 40 crops a year of microgreens, and 20 crops a year of baby greens.
Free of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, GoodLeaf's farms also use less than five per cent of the water required in open field farming. These farms are also free of the risks posed by extreme weather. No floods will wipe out a crop, and they are not susceptible to the drought conditions that are currently forcing more than 500,000 acres to go fallow in California due to a water shortage.
"McCain is at its core an innovative agricultural company and a leader in sustainability, which makes GoodLeaf a great fit with our values," says Peter Dawe, Chief Growth & Strategy Officer from McCain Foods. "The technology used in GoodLeaf's farms replicate springtime's ideal growing conditions every single day, ensuring we have a local supply of fresh, tasty and nutritious greens year round. We have been a leading partner in supporting GoodLeaf's growth journey and are excited to continue to our support as it expands across the country."
GoodLeaf's new farms in Calgary and Montreal will be highly automated and outfitted with the most advanced technology available in controlled-environment agriculture. Together, these two farms will add 200,000 square feet of production space to GoodLeaf's capacity, and each will be able to produce approximately two million pounds of locally grown, fresh leafy greens each year. They are also expandable, with the capability to double that capacity quickly as Canadians transition to a superior, domestic source of leafy greens.
Both farms will begin producing microgreens and baby greens in late Q2 and early Q3 of 2023.
GoodLeaf's expansive and growing portfolio of baby greens and micro greens — including premium fresh options of GoodLeaf's unique Spring Mix, Micro Asian Blend and Micro Spicy Mustard Medley are available in most leading retailers in Ontario, including Loblaws, Sobeys, Metro, Longo's, Whole Foods and many independent retailers and food service operators.
With the completion of the Calgary and Montreal farms, GoodLeaf will have national coverage to support consumers from Atlantic Canada to British Columbia.
"The traditional sourcing of leafy greens in Canada from California and Arizona is a problem now, and will continue to be a problem," says Mr. Murchie. "It requires significant transportation miles, with each passing mile on the road the plants lose nutrients, and there is an increased risk of food spoilage and waste. With our excellent partnerships in both the retail and food service sectors, together we are bringing Canadians a superior domestic alternative in leafy greens whose taste, freshness and overall quality is unmatched. We are leveraging technology and commercial collaboration to secure Canada's food supply and we're doing so using sustainable growing practices."
Barclays acted as exclusive placement agent to GoodLeaf Farms on the equity capital raise.
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