August 19, 2021

Cox Enterprises is to acquire BrightFarms, the hydroponic indoor farming company and packaged salads provider. Cox has held a majority stake in BrightFarms since October 2020 when it led a $100 million Series E funding round.

To date, Cox has invested more than $1 billion in sustainable businesses and technologies, and BrightFarms will play a key role in helping the diversified communications, automotive and media group to reach its goal of building a multi-billion-dollar clean-tech business by 2030.

“Over the years, our enthusiasm for BrightFarms and the opportunity to transform the industry has increased tremendously, which led us to want to play a larger role in what they’re doing,” said Steve Bradley, vice president of clean-tech at Cox.

BrightFarms indoor growing
Indoor growing is less resource-intensive than conventional farming according to BrightFarms

BrightFarms looks to a high-tech, indoor future

For BrightFarms, the acquisition gives it a stable foundation on which to accelerate growth. The company plans to leverage its relationships with America’s largest retailers, bringing local indoor-grown salad leafy greens to more than two-thirds of the population by 2025.

As part of its expansion, the company will construct a national network of new high-tech farms to accelerate the salad industry’s transition to indoor farming. It is also expected to bump up investment in talent, research and innovation as it expands its product portfolio within the salad category and beyond.

Steve Platt, CEO of BrightFarms said: “We have built the most advanced network of local indoor farms in the nation. Being part of the Cox team will allow us to scale more rapidly, transforming the salad industry.” As the company embarks on its next chapter with Cox, Platt extended his gratitude to company founder Paul Lightfoot for his “bold vision” and to Catalyst Investors, an early supporter.

Expansion by acquisition

BrightFarms currently has five farms in Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Illinois. In July, the company acquired lēf Farms, an indoor grower based in Loudon, New Hampshire with plans to expand lēf’s facility into a 14-acre indoor growing hub for supermarkets throughout New England.

While most salad leaf ingredients are grown in California and shipped across the US, BrightFarms grows and delivers its greens to local supermarkets in as little as 24 hours from harvest. The company claims its sustainable hydroponic indoor farms yield 10 times more leafy greens per acre than growing in a field while using 80% less water, 90% less land, and 95% less shipping fuel than long-distance field-grown produce.

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