Investment in Vertical Farming: Vertical Future is focused on protecting the U.K.'s food security and improving long-term population health through building a better, smarter, more efficient food system. The company performs activities across growing, technology, and research and development (R&D), led by a management team that has experience spanning life sciences, engineering, and plant sciences.
Vertical Future's growing operations, based in Deptford, produces sustainable, pesticide-free produce for the food sector. Its technology plans are equally as impressive - with its team halfway through building what is expected to be the most sophisticated vertical farm in the world, which will be fully automated, sensor and software-driven, with better than food standard hygiene practices and R&D capabilities. The facility is expected to go beyond organic certification status. The company has several vertical farming licensing deals in the pipeline and a growing number of national and international projects across an increasingly diversified portfolio.
The recent global pandemic has had a significant impact on every sector of the U.K. economy, including food, with economic output expected to decrease by 15%. In London, food wholesalers and distributors saw a greater than 70% overnight fall in sales and most restaurants - excluding those able to offer takeaway services - were forced to close, resulting in significant layoffs across the industry. On the supply side, major farms across the U.K. have been forced to close or scale back, in some cases facing difficulties in securing labor. Farms have warned of a potential shortage in food supply with harvest workers shut out. Overall, there remains uncertainty concerning when the pandemic is likely to end, how the food sector will be able to cope in the interim, and how market dynamics will change when things return to a state of normality.
Investment in Vertical Farming: Earthworm's follow-on investment will not only support Vertical Future in accelerating its technology and growing plans, it will also better equip the U.K. in the event of future economic shocks, creating a better, lower-risk environment for all.