Sustainable food company AppHarvest finalized sale-leaseback of Berea facility, opens Richmond location

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AppHarvest, Inc., a sustainable food company, built one of the world’s largest high-tech indoor farms to grow affordable, nutritious fruits and vegetables at scale and provide good jobs in Appalachia. announced that it had finalized its sale/leaseback for Berea on Tuesday. A $127+ million indoor leafy vegetable farm opens a 60-acre high-tech indoor farm in Richmond.

The 15-acre AppHarvest Berea farm is believed to be the world’s largest high-tech indoor facility for autonomous harvesting of leafy greens with a state-of-the-art touchless growing system. (Photo from AppHarvest)

AppHarvest has entered into a sale/leaseback agreement with Mastronardi Berea LLC, a joint venture of Mastronardi Produce and COFRA Holding, for Berea high-tech indoor farms for leafy vegetables with an initial lease rate of 7.5% over 10 years. 5 year renewal period. Mastronardi Produce is AppHarvest’s exclusive marketing and distribution partner and has sold AppHarvest’s tomatoes, leafy greens, strawberries and other agricultural products to the nation’s top grocery chains, restaurants and food outlets.

A portion of the sale-leaseback proceeds will be used to repay the previously announced $30 million bridge loan from Mastronardi Produce to AppHarvest, as well as the first two years of upfront rent at the Berea facility. Additional details regarding sale-leasebacks are available in the related Form 8-K filed with the SEC.

AppHarvest Founder and CEO Jonathan Webb said: “The team is now focused on operations to increase production and revenue from our four high-tech farms.”

AppHarvest also announced that its Richmond Farm has officially opened and begun growing Campari brand tomatoes. The first harvest in Richmond is due for his early January. This means AppHarvest is expected to ship commercially from each of his four farm network facilities for the first time. Half of the Richmond farm is currently planted, and the other half will be planted in his 2023.

A crop care specialist tending tomatoes on AppHarvest Richmond’s 60-acre high-tech indoor farm. (Photo from AppHarvest)

The company has quadrupled the number of farms operating on its network by 2022 in what it calls the largest simultaneous construction of a managed environmental agriculture infrastructure in U.S. history. — A 30-acre farm in Somerset for strawberries and cucumbers and a 15-acre farm in Berea for leafy greens. AppHarvest ships strawberries under the “WOW Berries” brand and wash-and-ready leafy greens under the “Queen of Greens” brand.

In its third growing season, AppHarvest Morehead Farms further diversified its crops, adding snack tomatoes marketed as “Flavor Bombs” and “Sugar Bombs” under the Sunset brand. Morehead has started harvesting ahead of schedule this season.

According to a USDA report, the value of U.S. fruit and vegetable imports will reach record levels in 2021 and is projected to continue rising in 2022. Changing weather patterns — From massive droughts in the U.S. Southwest to frequent floods, devastating wind events are making it difficult for outdoor growers to predict the length of the growing season and create the conditions for high-quality harvests. It’s getting harder than ever.

Major food retailers have the ability to de-risk their fruit and vegetable production using far fewer resource-intensive, more climate-resilient and more sustainable year-round growing solutions. It indicates a growing interest in high-tech indoor farms. Industry pioneer Europe is estimated to have nearly 520,000 acres of CEA production, compared to an estimated 6,000 acres in the United States.


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