Infarm, the world's fastest-growing urban farming network, announced today a partnership with Summit Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sumitomo Corporation Group to offer fresh produce grown and harvested at the company's Summit Store (supermarket), one of Tokyo's leading supermarket chains.
With annual revenue (as of March 2020) of USD 3B, Summit Inc. has 120 retail locations across the Tokyo metropolitan area. The first farms will be installed by Infarm at Summit's Gotanno location, in conjunction with the store's rebuilding in December 2020, and produce will be available for purchase at Summit Gotanno store at the end of January 2021.
This announcement marks Infarm's second major partnership in Japan. The company first expanded into the market through partnerships with East Japan Railway Company (JR East), food retailer, Kinokuniya, and national food distributor, Muroo Co. Ltd, announced in February 2020. Infarm produce will first be available to Kinokuniya consumers on January 19, 2021 at the Aoyama International flagship store and on January 23, 2021 at the Nishi-Ogikubo store located at the JR Nishiogikubo station. Additional Kinokuniya stores are expected to follow through 2021.
"We are very pleased to partner with Infarm. Since last year, we have been communicating with Erez and Mr. Hiraishi, and our business vision and chemistry matched with each other, which led to this partnership. We look forward to serving our customers with Infarm vegetables at our Gotanno store, an important flagship store for Summit," commented Junpei Yamamoto, Executive Officer of Summit Inc.
"Japan's busy urban centers present a unique opportunity to improve the way millions of people get access to fresh, sustainable produce. We're proud to partner with Summit as we continue to grow in this dynamic market. Summit's commitment to offering high-quality food to customers at all price points, while reducing waste and making shopping enjoyable, aligns perfectly with Infarm's vision to make fresh nutritious food available to everyone," commented Erez Galonska, co-founder and CEO of Infarm.
According to some estimates, Japan relies on imports for about 60% of its food, contributing to a tremendous amount of cumulative food miles, while annual food waste has been estimated to have reached more than 6.12 million tons. In addition, Japan has one of the highest rates of pesticide use in the world according to estimates offered by the FAO. By partnering closely with Japanese clients, Infarm hopes to make a positive contribution to retailer efforts to reduce the negative environmental impact of produce with fresh food that is grown as closely as possible to the point of consumption.
"We continue to experience positive momentum in Japan and believe our approach to farming will be attractive to Tokyo consumers. Our clients can be sure that our harvesters have taken care of each plant as if it were in their very own garden, full of flavour and pesticide-free. We're convinced that Infarm shoppers will taste and notice the difference," said Ikuo C. Hiraishi, Managing Director, Infarm Japan.
Infarm has developed the world's most advanced, easily scalable and rapidly deployable modular farms that can transform any retail space and fulfil any market demand. Each in-store farm offers a controlled environment with growing recipes that bring out the natural flavour and properties of each plant.
The individual farms are connected and remotely controlled from a central farming platform that gathers up-to-the-minute information about each plant's growth and learns, adjusts and improves itself continuously, so each plant grows better than the one before. Infarm staff regularly visit the farms to harvest mature plants, place them at the point of sale, and plant new seedlings for the next cycle. Consumers have access to the plants at their freshest points, still alive with their roots, free of pesticides and full of nutrients and flavour.
"Flavour for me is a primary concern - as I want to offer each of my customers a unique experience that both surprises and delights the palate. Being able to use herbs and lettuces freshly harvested from Infarm gives me a personal garden to be creative and make my dishes sparkle - it's an experience that can really transform your cooking as a chef or for your family at home," said Tim Raue, Infarm client and Michelin-starred chef of Restaurant Tim Raue in Berlin.