As we get closer to the Indoor AgTech Innovation Summit in New York, we caught up with Craig Hurlbert, Co-Founder & Co-CEO at Local Bounti about the company’s journey in the indoor agtech industry, the next emerging crops and its expansion plans. 

What are the next emerging crops or markets you plan to explore?
There is still a lot to explore within leafy greens, brassicas, herbs, and other fruits and vegetables. Similar SKUs are seen nationwide from CEA production. However, Local Bounti’s Stack and Flow™ Technology will unlock broad SKU diversity that is not currently available in the broader CEA space. For instance, everyone in the industry is talking about berries, but few if any have landed on a scalable, profitable solution with strong unit economics. The key to successfully taking berry production indoor is ultimately about technology – enabling a better and more local product for the consumer, emphasizing superior flavor, longer shelf life, while also drastically reducing food miles. Ultimately, our focus today is on expanding the lettuce and herbs category. Though, as we look to new emerging crops and markets, we will be solving for unit economics first and only pursuing opportunities where the application of Stack and Flow will lead to a profitable and superior product for the consumer.

What are the biggest challenges you’re facing?
Let me start by stating that there will be multiple winners in the CEA space. Though, as capital markets continue to fund the indoor agriculture sector, differentiation is going to be key. There are contenders and pretenders in the space today, and the key difference is a focus and delivery of unit economics and profitability to their investors. The ‘promise’ of the CEA industry is fresher, cleaner, healthier, more sustainable produce. The companies that drive focus on unit economics and profitability will be able to deliver on that promise for the long haul. Our biggest challenge today is educating investors, commercial partners and consumers on how to separate these two groups: the contenders and pretenders.

What does a successful roadmap to national and international expansion look like for you?
A successful roadmap, both nationally and internationally, is being LOCAL in more places. Large retailers want fewer vendors and a national, consistent supply, and are pulling us across the country. It is a natural progression for us to continue our national expansion from the Western US across the country. Much like our recent acquisition of Pete’s, we continue to evaluate new facilities with a build vs. buy strategy. Important considerations are meeting key existing customer demand and providing our customers with locally and sustainably grown produce delivered at peak freshness, year-round. The same strategy can be applied internationally. Due to our strong unit economics and patent pending Stack and Flow™ Technology, we can expand anywhere, and when the time is right, focus in areas where other players simply cannot.

Where do you plan to be in the next 3-5 years?
At the heart, we are a customer and consumer centric company. With that being said, we will continue to grow, literally, where our customers and where the market asks us to go. The future of Indoor Agriculture is bright, and we’re excited to be a leader of this industry, demonstrating how a strong business with good economics can deliver on the promise of CEA.

Meet Craig Hurlbert and the Local Bounti team at Indoor AgTech! Join Craig’s panel discussion on ‘How Will the Industry Shape Up in 5-10 Years?’ during the Crystal Ball Session at 3.35pm EST on June 24. 

For more information about Local Bounti, follow them on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube and TikTok.