Less than two years after partnering with Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) startup Hippo Harvest, Amazon is selling the company’s first line of leafy green lettuces.
Founded in 2019, Hippo Harvest applies plant science, plus machine learning and robotics, to grow vegetables in greenhouses. According to the company, its growing technology allows for year-round, pesticide-free vegetable production, using 92% less water and 55% less fertilizer than conventional farming practices.
In the San Francisco area, online customers of Amazon Fresh — Amazon’s line of private-label groceries — can purchase Hippo Harvest baby romaine, spring mix, and gourmet lettuce blends packed in 100% post-consumer recycled plastic.
Effects of Climate Change
As climate change depletes available water supplies — particularly for agricultural communities in landlocked countries — crops, livestock, and land use are affected. Disappearing water sources are expected to have a long-range impact on sustainable agriculture and food security.
Climate change is already impacting how we eat. As water continues to disappear from our agricultural communities, we need solutions that give farmers the ability to make the best use of our natural resources and ensure everyone has access to fresh produce,” said Kara Hurst, VP of Worldwide Sustainability at Amazon. “
Amazon’s collaboration with Hippo Harvest is another step forward in our work to support transformative green technologies while also providing our customers with a broader array of grocery options.
Amazon-Hippo Harvest Partnership
The partnership with Amazon gives Hippo Harvest access to Amazon's extensive distribution network and customer base. Amazon will source produce from Hippo Harvest's greenhouses in California and Arizona and sell it on Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods stores.
In recent years, Amazon has expanded its presence in the grocery industry. In 2017, the company acquired Whole Foods Market, the natural and organic grocery chain, for $13.7 billion and has worked to integrate Whole Foods into its operations. Amazon launched Amazon Fresh in 2022, offering fresh produce and meat.
About Hippo Harvest’s Sustainable Operations
Hippo Harvest states that its greenhouses use no synthetic pesticides and that its technologies allow it to farm sustainably with over 60% less food waste than standard growing methods.
Through machine learning, Hippo Harvest can experiment to achieve carefully customized levels of water, light, and nutrients that help its crops thrive effectively. Robots deliver the optimum dose of water and nutrients to the Hippo Harvest lettuce mixes, with the growing process ultimately needing 55% less fertilizer and 92% less water than typical farming. Because its growing system requires so much less water, Hippo Harvest greenhouses may particularly benefit urban areas and regions with low water levels.
In the growing industry, it’s estimated that each piece of produce travels an average of 1,500 miles before it is purchased and consumed. Hippo Harvest says it is committed to selling and serving all its produce near where it’s grown, reducing food miles by 80%. This, combined with its climate-controlled greenhouses that do not occupy farmland, will translate to a significant decrease in carbon emissions that affect the planet. Also, Hippo Harvest produce is packed using 40% less plastic than traditional clamshell packs.
Hippo Harvest signed The Climate Pledge, a commitment co-founded by Amazon to help address global climate shifts. The Pledge supports new climate technology companies and strives to help businesses reach net-zero carbon by 2040.
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