New York-based greenhouse vegetable producer BrightFarms, Inc. is set to break ground this month on its fourth greenhouse.
“We have emerged as the nation’s leading producer of locally grown salad greens as it continues to disrupt the incumbent salad industry on the West Coast,” says Paul Lightfoot, CEO of BrightFarms. “We have seen demand for our local greens climb sharply as retailers have come to rely on the stability and consistency of our product.”
Preference for Local
The success BrightFarms is experiencing is part of a larger national trend towards local produce. The Food Marketing Institute’s 2017 Power of Produce report listed both organic and local as two of the largest drivers for growth in fresh produce, but noted that consumers have a significant preference for local. Researchers found when quality and appearance are controlled with no price differential, 60% of consumers chose the local option versus just 32% for organic.
However, Lightfoot notes that most retailers are unable to gain access to a reliable year-round supply of local produce.
“There is a large opportunity for the supermarket produce department to grow if they can source locally,” he says. “BrightFarms sees a clear opportunity in the market to expand our model for local produce across the country.”
BrightFarms’ Wilmington, OH, greenhouse facility is slated to break ground this month and will encompass 120,000 square feet. The operation will provide locally grown salad greens and herbs to supermarkets in the Cincinnati, Dayton, and Columbus metropolitan areas.
“We will also be creating 30 permanent green collar jobs that provide a living wage and full health care benefits to members of the community,” Lightfoot says. “A model for the future of local, low-impact farming, the greenhouse will be the most sustainable source of local year-round salad greens in the Ohio market.”