Hydroponics is coming to a major food retailer

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United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI), a health food distributor and leading supplier to outlets such as Whole Foods, has partnered with indoor farming company, Square Roots. The deal will see Square Roots Farms move onsite to a number of UNFI distribution outlets.

The first of these farms will be 20,000 square feet in size and will be located at UNFI’s facility in Prescott, Wisconsin. It is expected to open in 2023 and will serve customers in Wisconsin and Minnesota, including that state’s highly populated Twin Cities region.

The move is part of UNFI’s Better For All effort, which aims to integrate food supply chains in ways that foster closer relationships between suppliers and distributors. Already, the grocery wholesaler delivers its products to 30,000 locations across North America.

Strengthening food supply chains

Square Roots aims to use the most advanced growing technology to grow leafy greens, microgreens and herbs in its indoor hydroponic farms. Using this technology, he is able to grow food using far less water than is typical of traditional farming methods. Plus, it’s certified pesticide-free and Non-GMO Project Compliant. Proprietary software is used to manage all aspects of the growing process, which takes place year-round.

Square Roots Co-Founder and CEO, Tobias Peggs, had this to say about the company’s techniques: “Our unique approach to indoor farming is fully optimized to support large-scale distribution partners and before -thinkers like UNFI… It’s good business, and it’s also better for people and the planet.

The company’s other co-founder, Kimbal Musk, stressed the need to strengthen food supply chains: “Whether we are learning lessons from Covid-19 or considering the future impact of climate change, there is is clear that we need more resilience in our food. system. Through this partnership, we can now bring local food, grown by local farmers, to UNFI’s network of retail customers and their buyers, consistently and reliably, all year round.

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