July/August 2022 - 23

BERRIES
While Driscoll's grows some fruit, it relies on 900
independent growers. Driscoll's growers range in size
from five acres to others harvesting several thousand
acres. Unlike the meat industry, where four packers
control most of the distribution and producers' pay
isn't tied as much to market conditions, Driscoll's keeps
its growers updated weekly on changing economics
and bases growers' returns on market demand.
Planting an acre of strawberries in California could
cost $35,000. With harvest costs adding another
$35,000-$40,000 an acre, a grower could easily
invest $80,000 on one acre.
" Berry growing is very high-touch and requires
a lot of attention, compared to other growing,
especially strawberries and raspberries, " Bjorn said.
" A grower could lose a strawberry field in two days.
They just can't plant the berries, go golfing or go on
vacation and come back. "
Viewing vertical farming as complementary
to conventional growing methods, Bjorn doesn't
envision indoor berries ever replacing field-grown.
" It's kind of like organics, which became more
complementary in nature to our commercial
strawberry production, " he said. " It can attract a
new group of consumers. "
 Berries being grown indoors in a joint venture between Driscoll's and Plenty. Driscoll's plans to
open a vertical farm in the Northeast U.S.
PROFILES
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July/August 2022

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