Several plastic clamshells with labels pointing forward sat in front of me on a conference room table, along with a plate of turnips and a container of those R&D strawberries we saw back in part two. It is a great picture op; with Bowery Farming’s outstanding grow system in the background and a fantastic visual depiction of the product’s life cycle. More significantly, it serves as a reminder of how most consumers will connect with the organization in the end.
Of course, because of my position at TechCrunch, I got the big tour – the complete Willy Wonka, clean suit coveralls, and taste-testing experience. “Can I visit a Bowery Farm?” answered simply in the company’s FAQ: “At this moment, we do not accept visitors to our farms.”
Of course, it is understandable. While the farms themselves are beautiful, there are simply too many resources and health measures to bother about offering tours to the public. My guides were quite careful about what could and could not shot during my stay, including trade secrets. Bowery’s branding approach mostly relies around blending in, given the novelty of vertical farming and the stigma still associated with the taste of indoor-grown fruit.
Press coverage, such as the one you are reading now, is a component of the outreach. Knowing that putting its fields on the show is a strong approach to unravel the interesting tale of vertical farming, the firm welcomes journalists and the odd video camera. I viewed a variety of films displaying vertical farms from throughout the world before my personal visit. My playlist included everything from Nordic Harvest’s huge 75,000-square-foot facility in Copenhagen to Brooklyn-based Square Roots’ modular urban farming installations inside a shipping container you can buy for $80,000.
The magnitude, breadth, and potential effect boggle the mind. Although vertical farming is still in its infancy, it is gradually gaining traction, and the greenfield is quickly being absorbed. The majority of customers will never contact with a Bowery farm beyond reading a story or seeing a video online, which is not necessarily a bad thing. The truth is that most city dwellers will never visit the farms where our food is grown, so the fact that there is a link at all is a triumph in and of itself.
Bowery’s destiny in the ultra-competitive produce industry will ultimately be determined by its ability to develop that personal relationship with customers. The company places a great value on branding, especially since it competes with companies like AeroFarms, which recently declared that it would go public via SPAC before failing to gain investor approval.
In this fourth and final piece of the TC-1, I will look at how the firm is attempting to develop brand loyalty in the produce area, figure out its packaging, build its supply chain, and, lastly, find a way to profitability in the face of a crowded market. Bowery sees potential in the boutique clamshells that have started to appear on vegetable aisles in recent years, first in elite shops and subsequently in more supermarkets that are popular.