Growing food is a tough business, and growers, whether they are tilling fields or managing lighting schedules in a warehouse, can face difficult choices on how to conduct their business. Virginia-based Soli Organic, which claims to have a ~35% share of the US herb market, is familiar with such choices: It announced a rebrand from Shenandoah Farmers to Soli Organic in 2021 and has been slowly retooling its operations to grow almost entirely indoors.
The revamp came more than a decade after the company began a slow-burning shift from the great outdoors to the great indoors as the costs of controlled environment agriculture fell. It aims to transition the “bulk of its business” over the next year and a half to its tech-enabled indoor setup as part of a larger plan to move 90% of its production indoors, according to Matt Ryan, CEO of Soli Organic.
“Converting field-grown to indoors for us is all about profitability. It’s hard to make a dime right now in the outdoor field-grown herb business,” Ryan told Emerging Tech Brew. “It is an incredibly expensive proposition to buy herbs from the field or to grow herbs in the field, pack them, and so on and so forth. So going indoors is basically how we save that business, keep it profitable, and grow our margins.”
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