Sea to Sky Farms has acquired Vertical Choice, a sales brokerage and consulting firm that helps local farmers using sustainable indoor growing systems to sell their produce and grow their businesses. In addition to consolidating sales and marketing processes in-house for Sea to Sky’s vertical farming operations, the acquisition adds a proven revenue stream forecast to achieve top-line sales of $5 million CAD in 2023.
“The executives who founded Vertical Choice have a long, successful history in produce sales,” says Christos Livadas, Mergers and Acquisitions Advisor, Weiser Capital Group. “Having an in-house brokerage with such significant experience will enable Sea to Sky to help vertical farmers succeed because growing good produce is only half the battle. It is also about selling it at a profit, knowing how to sell it, and being aware of what clients and end consumers want, which Vertical Choice understands.”
Co-founded by former multi-national foodservice distributor sales executive specialist Jay Kallu and retail produce expert Andy Eustis, Vertical Choice partners with local growers to bring their produce to market. Vertical Choice also supports these growers with the farming and branding expertise required to accelerate growth.
“Jay and Andy have spent decades getting nutritious, reliable, and sustainable produce into grocery stores and restaurants across North America,” adds Sea to Sky Farms Co-Founder and Chief Financial Officer Daniel Cruz. “In the background, they have educated grocery store buyer reps about non-GMO, non-pesticide indoor lettuce and microgreens, which has validated the opportunity and helped educate consumers too.”
Sea to Sky and Vertical Choice have a shared vision to leverage technology that benefits domestic food production for Canadian and American consumers. Currently, Canada and the United States are two of the top three importers of lettuce globally. Due to the impacts of climate change, unstable supply chains, and production shortfalls, national grocers are seeking alternative, local sources. Sea to Sky is stabilizing fragile food supply through indoor growing operations that use vertical farming technology. Vertical Choice is leveraging inventory management solutions to get local produce to local distributors. This shortens the time and distance that produce travels to reach local shelves and tables and reduces the need to ship produce from more distant locations.
“Customer demand for locally grown food has never been higher, whether that is a consumer buying produce at their local grocery store or a restaurant serving meals in our local communities,” says Cruz. “We are committed to leading a revolution in food production, food quality, and supply chain efficiencies.”
“It is a complex logistical process to scale your independent farm,” says Jay Kallu, Co-Founder of Vertical Choice. “By partnering with us, local growers can spend their time doing what they do best – growing good food. Vertical Choice offers the benefits of marketing that produce under our established NEIGHBRHD brand. We also handle the logistics of getting produce to market and help farmers scale their independent businesses.”
Owned by Vertical Choice, the NEIGHBRHD brand was developed to fill a market need for locally sourced produce that is fresh, reliable and sustainable. Farmers who partner with Vertical Choice package and sell their produce through this brand network rather than trying to figure out back-end logistics independently. The NEIGHBRHD brand is approved for sale via major Canadian food distributors and the country’s largest grocery retailers.
“Sea to Sky is continuing to increase its growing capacity in a reliable and sustainable way. Our acquisition of Vertical Choice will not only improve these operations, it will help other independent farmers that want to get good produce profitably to market,” adds Cruz.
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Sea to Sky Farms