Source: Infarm

Vertical farm firm Infarm is halving its global workforce as part of a “significant strategy shift” and bid to reach profitability next year.

Some 500 staff are in the process of leaving the company, which warned it is proposing to “downsize operations” in the UK as well as in France and the Netherlands.

In a joint statement, company co-founders Erez Galonska, Osnat Michaeli and Guy Galonska said in its current form Infarm “cannot withstand the challenging market conditions, particularly with regards to escalating energy prices and tough financial markets”.

“We have to adapt our ambitious growth targets and increase our efficiencies to make our business profitable, and continue the pursuit of our long-term mission,” the co-founders said.

“The tough reality is that this shift and the reduction of our production sites will have a significant impact on people,” they added.

As well as soaring energy prices, the company noted the added pressures on its finances from inflation, supply chain disruptions and rising material costs.

Infarm had already been slimming down its operations by consolidating production sites and its in-store salad-growing mini-farms over the last 12 months.

“However, these measures assumed a quick market recovery, and we must admit our assessment was too optimistic,” the co-founders said.

The company – which provides retailers including Whole Foods Market, M&S and Selfridges with in-aisle vertical farms the size of a chiller cabinet – could not confirm its precise plans for the UK.

Last summer Infarm opened a larger-scale vertical farm – or Growing Centre – in Bedford, which it claimed was one of the largest vertical farming facilities in Europe. The site features more than 5,500 sq m of growing space within Infarm’s cloud-connected farming units, however continuing operations at the site are in doubt.

The company said its farming capacity would be consolidated to Growing Centres in Frankfurt, Copenhagen and Toronto, and its modular farming units would be relocated to these core markets. “In these markets, we have established strong retailer relationships and secured contracts of significant volume and can therefore achieve profitability in 2023,” the co-founders noted.

“Based on the data we have today, we are forecasting slower growth caused by a significant downturn. We grew our teams to support a global growth strategy, but today, it is clear that a consolidation and focused growth mindset is required to overcome the challenges,” they added.

Posting on LinkedIn, Infarm’s head of media relations Janina Baldin said she was among those to lose their job.

“It was a shock for everyone at Infarm – no matter if you lost your job or not. Everyone is affected by that sort of recalibration. Days like that are not easy,” she said.