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The wave of Hawaii's future agriculture: a mix of traditional farming and new technologies

“The pandemic has really shown us how important sustainability is to Hawaii’s future… One of my goals for a sustainable Hawaii is to double local food production and a bright spot of the pandemic is that more families are consuming locally produced food and attempting to grow their own food. Every little bit helps as we try to work towards our sustainability goals,” said David Ige, Governor of Hawaii.

“I believe a mix of traditional farming and new technologies is the wave of the future for agriculture in Hawaii. Innovations like vertical farming help farmers be more productive while using less resources – especially water. That’s why it’s exciting that a company like Kalera is making an investment to bring their operations to Hawaii, where we are sensitive to reducing our impact on the environment. I think technologies such as vertical farming and hydroponics also have appeal to younger people and could help attract more young farmers to the field.”

Kalera announced it will open a facility in Honolulu, Hawaii in 2021. Kalera’s Hawaiian location will be the company’s eighth facility announced. The farm will provide approximately 60 jobs to the local community upon opening.

The news of this facility comes on the heels of a string of exciting updates from Kalera, including the announcement of upcoming facilities in Atlanta, Houston, Denver, Seattle and Columbus; the addition of two new members to the Board of Directors, including Red Lobster CEO, Kim Lopdrup; and the completion of over $150 million in fundraising this year.

With millions of heads of lettuce to be grown per year, Kalera’s Honolulu facility will provide a rare and much needed local source of fresh, non-GMO, clean, living lettuces and microgreens to retailers, restaurants and other customers.

90% of Hawaii’s greens are currently grown on the mainland United States and shipped into the state – an expensive 2,500-mile journey that can take over 10 days and require many touchpoints and opportunities for contamination. Kalera’s location within city limits will shorten travel time from days and weeks to hours, preserving nutrients, freshness and flavor.

“In addition to providing a bounty of fresh, affordable and delicious lettuces and microgreens to restaurants, cruise lines, resorts, hotels, and retailers, Kalera’s Honolulu location will increase food security and resilience on the island,” said Daniel Malechuk, Chief Executive Officer for Kalera. “With price inflation impacting almost all produce that reaches Hawaii due to prolonged shipping times, Kalera’s affordably priced products will increase access to a stable supply of healthy food for Hawaiian citizens and tourists.”

Distributors anticipate locally grown greens will improve their business. “Vertical farming is a great way to provide our customers with the freshest quality products grown in a foodsafe and sustainable manner while supporting local farming,” said Dwight Otani, founder and president of D. Otani Produce, Hawaii's largest wholesaler, providing local hotels, restaurants, business institutions and retailers with the highest quality produce.

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