Oishii Unveils Sun Goddess Farm for Sustainable Berry Boom

Oishii, the vertical farming company renowned for its innovative approach to agriculture, has officially inaugurated its highly anticipated 237,000-square-foot strawberry-farming facility in Phillipsburg, New Jersey. Named the Amatelas Farm, after the Japanese Goddess of the Sun, this groundbreaking facility is set to revolutionize indoor agriculture with its cutting-edge technology and sustainable practices.

The Amatelas Farm, which was first announced earlier this year, is designed to be a beacon of efficiency and sustainability. It runs primarily on renewable energy, powered by a 50-acre solar field adjacent to the facility. This commitment to sustainability aligns with Oishii’s vision of creating a more efficient and environmentally friendly model for indoor farming.

The new facility will serve as the main production hub for Oishii’s Koyo strawberries, a variety based on a berry native to the Koyo region of Japan. The Koyo strawberries have garnered significant demand in the market, prompting Oishii to scale up its production capacity. The company raised $134 million in a Series B funding round at the beginning of the year, which CEO and co-founder Hiroki Koga indicated was a strategic move to address their production constraints.

“We have so much demand from the market, but it took us many years even just to get to [the Northeast US]. Even there, we’re not in nearly as many stores as we want because of production capacity,” Koga told AgFunderNews earlier this year. The new facility is a direct response to this challenge, enabling Oishii to meet the growing demand for its premium strawberries.

The Amatelas Farm is an impressive feat of engineering and technology. Spanning the size of several football fields, it consists of individual farm units, each equipped with 250 moving racks of strawberries. Nearly 50 robots, powered by artificial intelligence and visual recognition technology, are employed to detect the ripeness of each fruit before picking the berries. These robots also collect data to optimize environmental variables such as light, temperature, and wind speed, ensuring optimal growing conditions.

The facility’s capacity is staggering, with the ability to grow more than 20 times the number of berries compared to Oishii’s previous facility. This significant increase in production will allow Oishii to expand into new markets along the East Coast of the United States, addressing the previously unmet demand for its strawberries.

While the Amatelas Farm will focus on the production of Koyo strawberries, Oishii’s existing 72,000-square-foot farm in Jersey City will continue to grow the Omakase strawberry and Rubi tomato. Additionally, Oishii plans to trial new types of berries with retailers in the near future and is set to unveil a new variety of strawberry later in 2024.

Oishii’s approach to vertical farming sets it apart in an industry that has seen its share of ups and downs. Koga, who experienced a similar boom-and-bust cycle in Japan a decade ago, anticipated the challenges faced by the vertical farming industry. “We’ve always had a five-year or 10-year strategy roadmap,” he says. “We never optimized for [raising] money in the next two years and trying to convince investors on a much shorter timeline or returns because it’s not realistic.”

Koga’s philosophy is reflected in the sophisticated technology and innovative practices employed at Amatelas Farm. “We run towards problems once thought to be impossible to solve,” he says. “In just two years, we’ve developed technological breakthroughs now in use at Amatelas Farm that make our growing process significantly more efficient, yet just as delicious. Our desire to maintain this exponential rate of innovation is driven by a deeply human need: we see vertical farming as a critical part of the solution to our failing agriculture system.”

As Oishii continues to push the boundaries of what’s possible in vertical farming, the opening of the Amatelas Farm marks a significant milestone in the company’s journey. With its commitment to sustainability, innovation, and meeting market demand, Oishii is poised to make a lasting impact on the future of agriculture.

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