When I think about Texas I don’t think about snow. But in February of this year, that’s exactly what flooded social media feeds and news reports as power grids failed, cities shut down, and millions were left in the cold. What farmers are calling “The St. Valentine’s day massacre” descended on the state, and when it was over, more than $600 million in agriculture production was decimated in a matter of days. Sadly, events like this are becoming an all too familiar refrain.
Change isn’t happening fast enough.
Our agricultural system and its supply chain delivered when we demanded cheap food quickly. The problem we’re now learning is that “cheap” food in fact has quite a high cost; one that puts our relationship with our health and the planet in arrears. And that cost is quickly becoming due.
Agriculture accounts for a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions today and is predicted to reach 40% of global emissions by 2050. In order to feed our population under the current system, half of all arable land must be used for farming, and in just the last 40 years we have already destroyed a third of that arable farmland. One third of all food continues to go to waste, rotting in landfills and emitting methane, which is 80x more potent than CO2. And the destruction of carbon-capturing farmland and marine habitats from industrial farming’s chemical use and nutrient runoff shows no signs of abating. On top of all this, we need to feed a population of 9-10 billion people by 2050.
Our system needs to change.
I’ve always been a believer that the biggest ideas solve obvious problems. At the beginning of Bowery we asked ourselves “what if you could start over and build a fresh food system from the ground up? A system that leverages the technologies of today and of tomorrow. What would that system look like?” To start, you would focus on reinventing the entire supply chain and not just the farm. That’s exactly what we’re doing at Bowery.
We control our entire supply chain from seed to store. The supply chain that we’re building at Bowery is simpler, safer, more reliable, and much more sustainable. We designed our farms from the ground up. By bringing them indoors and completely controlling the environment, we’re able to use only the exact inputs needed and grow our produce pesticide-free. We call this Protected Produce. We optimize growing conditions for every crop, and breed new seeds for the explicit purpose of creating delicious and unique flavors rather than for long distance transport and pest and drought resistance.
We built the BoweryOS, our proprietary software, hardware, computer vision and AI system, to constantly test and iterate our growing environment. The BoweryOS learns billions of times in a single year versus the 40 lifetime growing seasons of a farmer today. We use software to capture those learnings and share that intelligence to our entire connected network of farms in real time, making the whole network stronger with each new farm built. We power our farm network with 100% renewable energy, and of course, because we grow differently, we can locate farms right next to the communities they serve so that our product reaches our customers at peak freshness, within a day or so after harvests. In the future, we will have hundreds of farms, constantly and seamlessly communicating with each other to grow safe, fresh, delicious, accessible Protected Produce locally on a global scale, giving back more to the planet than we take.
This is the world we want to live in, and this is Bowery’s vision.
We have always been proponents of thoughtful scaling. In the last six years, we’ve built two commercial farms, one in New Jersey and one in Maryland, two R&D farms in New Jersey, and a third commercial farm is under construction in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Bowery produce is now sold in over 850 stores throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, from retailers like Walmart to Whole Foods Market. We have come a long way from a few people with a pitch deck and an empty warehouse. But in spite of that, we have so much further to go.
This is why I’m thrilled to announce that we’ve raised $300M in new funding to fuel our vision of a fresh food system that works better for our people and the planet. The round was led by Fidelity Management & Research Company, with substantial participation from our existing partners along with support from new investors and individuals who share our passion for a better agricultural system. We have always told our potential partners that the journey we’re on is a long one. To build a generational company takes time, patience, resilience, and relentless focus from our entire team and our capital partners. We’re lucky to have found these qualities and more in our incredible team and so many great supporters and early customers.
While neither Bowery nor indoor farming will be the only solution in the fight to eliminate the climate impact of fresh food, we are intensely committed to being a driving force in this journey. The new food system will be one defined by innovation, quality, safety, and positive global impact. We have lots of work still to do; this is just the very beginning…
CEO & Founder