The Ottawa startup claims growing demand for lettuce amid global shortage.
Ottawa-based agtech startup Fieldless Farms has raised a $17.5 million Series A round with a combination of equity and debt.
“Canadians are hungry for better options and we can’t keep shelves stocked.”
– Jon Lomow, Fieldless Farms CEO
The financing was led by agriculture and food fund Forage Capital Partners, with participation from Farm Credit Canada (FCC) and the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC). Fieldless noted that BDC and FCC provided equal amounts in the debt portion of the fundraise, but did not disclose the exact size of BDC and FCC’s investments.
Launched in 2019, Fieldless uses indoor farming technology to produce leafy-greens year-round. Known as controlled environment agriculture (CAE), Fieldless said it allows the farm to create an ideal climate for growing produce throughout the year.
By being produced in a controlled environment, Fieldless claims its products are safe to eat right out of the box with no washing needed. The startup said this is because it uses no herbicides, pesticides, and chemical baths. CAE also prevents environmental contaminants, such as runoff from livestock farms, from affecting the produce.
Fieldess’ facilities are located in Cornwall, situated in the corridor between Montréal and Toronto. This approximate location, according to Fieldless, allows the company to get its produce to consumers in Ontario and Québec quickly and affordably. Currently, Fieldless’ leafy greens product line is available in the Burrow Shop, select Metro locations, Farm Boy, and Your Independent Grocer.
The Cornwall farm’s fresh funds is earmarked for expanding the facility by ten-fold. According to Fieldless, this will help the startup in meeting demand for cut lettuce, as well as introduce new products.
There have been reports of a global lettuce shortage that has forced the likes of fast food chain KFC to use a blend of lettuce and cabbage throughout its restaurants, citing supply chain disruptions.
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Canada’s vegetable market also heavily relies on imported produce. In 2020, Canada imported over $3.5 billion in field vegetables, with $2.2 billion of that pot coming from the United States.
“Canadians are hungry for better options and we can’t keep shelves stocked,” said Fieldless CEO Jon Lomow. “Fieldless is directly addressing long, complicated and mostly foreign supply chains by offering products that are local and more sustainable.”
Fieldless is part of a growing list of agtech startups in Canada that want to provide consumers with locally-grown produce and help in the global shortage. Other Canadian players in the indoor farming space include Toronto-based Elevate Farms, which raised $6.2 million CAD last year; as well as Welland vertical farm Vision Greens, which secured $7 million recently.
Featured image from Fieldless Farms.