“It’s a fabulous idea if you have space and capital”

In some Canadian grocery stores, when consumers ask where their leafy greens come from, the produce manager can just point a finger. 

Having vertical farms in-store “gets agriculture closer to city dwellers (and) gives customers the sense the grocer is very much intertwined with the rest of the supply chain,” says Sylvain Charlebois, senior director at the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University. “It’s a fabulous idea if you have space and capital.” But while the local movement is critical, “you don’t want to overdo it. I’m not entirely convinced you’re going to generate more sales by installing a vertical farm inside your grocery store. It’s more about supporting your brand.”

Quebec independent grocer Avril Supermarché Santé is a major proponent of in-store vertical farming. The grocer originally wanted to build a greenhouse on the roof of its 44,000-sq.-ft. Laval store, which opened in 2018, but the idea proved unfeasible, says Avril co-founder and co-owner Sylvie Senay.

Senay and fellow Avril co-owner Rolland Tanguay caught the vertical farming bug while attending a trade show in California. After their return home, they teamed up with INNO-3B, a Quebec company that specializes in vertical farming, to build a vertical farm above the retail area in the Laval store. Doing so didn’t come cheaply. “As we were the first to have this technology in a supermarket, we had to invest $500,000 in R&D” to develop the farm.

Read more at Canadian Grocer (D. Kucharsky)

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