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Inside Plenty's vertical farm. Image credit: Plenty

Brief: Plenty confirms closure of South San Francisco vertical farming facility

January 24, 2023

  • Vertical farming startup Plenty has confirmed with AFN that it is closing its South San Francisco facility.
  • The company will shift all production to its Compton, California facility, though it will continue to have a retail presence in the Bay Area.
  • Plenty has raised $914 million to date from Softbank, Walmart and others.

Why it matters:

News of Plenty closing down its South San Francisco facility first surfaced last month but flew largely under the radar.

Without giving concrete numbers, Plenty’s spokesperson also suggested some job cuts related to the SF facility are inevitable.

A spokesperson for the vertical farming company said Plenty has “outgrown” the R&D facility’s capabilities. It will now focus on completing “the world’s highest-output indoor vertical farm” in Compton, California. All commercial production will shift to that area.

Plenty first announced the Compton farm in 2019. As of this writing, that facility is “about to begin production.”

Founded in 2014, Plenty has so far raised a total of $914 million in outside funding to develop its technology and business. Its last round was a $400 million Series E raise at the beginning of 2022 from investors like Walmart and One Medical Group.

Whether Plenty’s latest developments are related to the current tech downturn is unclear. However, the closing of the South San Francisco facility is in keeping with the overall market correction happening in CEA as it matures away from the hype phase. It’s also the latest in a string of bad news out of the controlled environment agriculture (CEA) sector. At the end of 2022, robotic vertical farming startup Fifth Season closed its doors and Iron Ox cut half its workforce. This month, 80 Acres Farms also announced layoffs.

Read on for Plenty’s full statement:

As we work to complete our buildout and ramp-up of the world’s highest-output indoor vertical farm in Compton, we will shift all commercial production there. In 2023, we will be closing our South San Francisco facility. Our research & development facility in South San Francisco helped us expose the market to Plenty produce, but we have outgrown its capabilities.

While we will be winding down our South San Francisco farm, we will continue to have a strong presence in the SF Bay Area. We appreciate the many contributions of our South San Francisco team and are preserving as many roles as possible. There are a limited number of roles that will not continue, and we will support those team members with career placement opportunities as well as retention bonuses and severance packages.

These changes will enable us to continue making meaningful progress toward our mission to grow fresh food for everyone.

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