Produce Grower: AeroFarms was recently recognized for sustainability by the EDIE Sustainability Leaders Awards. What does that say about AeroFarms and what does it mean to you that the company was recognized?
David Rosenberg: This is really important to us. This is part of the fabric of why we started the company, to lead on environment. Part of what we did is see what our competitors/colleagues are doing and try to constantly raise the bar and raise the standards so everyone can build up and build better. It’s about trying to show what is possible, so we challenged ourselves and the community. We are a certified B Corp, which is a way of certifying a company’s environmental impact and not just profitability. We achieved that certification without doing anything that we weren’t already doing, and then we decided to see what we could do better.
PG: Do you get positive feedback for being eco-friendly and the like considering how important it is to consumers right now?
Mark Oshima: This is exactly at the crux of what’s exciting about our proposition, which applies not just to our customers, but also to the end consumer who is looking for more transparency, authenticity and looking for companies that are leading the way. Through our lens, we can act faster than even governments can in terms of implementing policy, so we can help be a catalyst. This is really important for us to think about how we push the industry forward, and putting that sustainability information in front of our customers. There’s a lot of education that we’ve invested in and it’s paid off.
PG: Is being a technological, forward-thinking company becoming more important for business, considering what the last year was like?
DR: It’s crucial as our value proposition has become more important. The world has had, essentially, a centralized food manufacturing business model. And now we see through this pandemic the cracks in the system — how if there’s contamination in one facility, it can bring down a whole facility and it sets off a chain reaction of damage. So a lot of the reaction is a more democratized food system and that means increasing local food production. In essence, that’s our business model — local food production at scale. The change is that the value proposition of food safety is more obvious now.