UK: Ocado to fund new vertical farm near Bristol as sales leap

Ocado is planning to “assist” with the building of a vertical farm near Bristol, it has announced. The online grocer said it had invested £5 million in Lincolnshire-based Jones Food Company (JFC) as part of a wider £25 million raise.

The funding will be used to help JFC - Europe’s largest vertical farm - to build a second site outside the South West city.

Ocado said its original stake in the Scunthorpe business, which uses hydroponics and renewable energy to grow herbs and leafy greens, was now worth “more than double” its initial investment, made in mid-2019.

JFC launched in early 2018 with a 5,000 sq m farm in an adapted cold store, with an entrepreneur and expert agronomist at the helm.

Initial harvests saw enough produce grown for 11 million sandwiches. 
The announcement was made as Ocado posted its half-year results on Tuesday. The company said in the six months to May 30, losses narrowed sharply as sales surged.

But the company said shoppers had begun returning to some pre-pandemic habits due to easing restrictions.

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