As we get closer to Indoor AgTech, Matt Ryan, CEO at Soli Organic speaks to us about the next emerging crops, expansion plans and the biggest challenges facing the CEA industry.


What are the biggest challenges you’re facing?
The controlled environment agriculture industry has made a great deal of noise about sustainability before actually having proved and verified actual impact. For instance, we often see companies claiming that they use 95% less water than field farmers do – but there’s no verified back-up for these assertions, which is causing stakeholders to question the industry. At Soli, we are measuring our environmental impact across all dimensions and seeking third-party validation and verification of our impact. It’s a great story, but we don’t want to go public with it until we have the back-up, so it’s frustrating to see others out there making claims they can’t or won’t substantiate.

We are also still sourcing lots of products from field growers as we transition our business to CEA products, we grow ourselves, which has much better quality, costs and sustainability. We worry a lot about the threat of crop loss, poor crop quality and soil erosion and the impact of things like water restrictions on outdoor growers, and the threat that represents from cost, quality and surety of supply perspectives.

What does a successful roadmap to national and international expansion look like for you?
As we continue to scale and grow our operations, our goal is to make high-quality organic produce accessible to consumers nationwide with more and more crops. We’re accomplishing that through our decades-long relationships with many of the country’s largest retailers and by ensuring we have production facilities strategically placed around the nation to ensure swift delivery of the freshest organic produce while reducing food miles. We see plenty of international expansion opportunities, but our first order of business is to leverage and expand our current domestic network that distributes product into 20,000+ stores.

Where do you plan to be in the next 3-5 years?
Soli Organic is in an accelerated growth phase right now, and it’s a very exciting time. Construction at our new South Carolina facility is on time and on budget, with growing expected to begin in Q3. Coming next: a new facility just outside of Seattle. We are building or planning to build many more even larger facilities in the next three years. All these facilities will produce organically grown herbs and leafy greens under the Soli brand. We are already growing herbs for much less than outdoor growers can, and we plan on doing the same in leafy greens by the end of next year.   

Matt will deliver a presentation on Growing Regeneratively: Providing Affordable and Sustainable Organic Produce to Consumers’ on June 24 at 12.50pm EST. Soli Organic is also hosting a roundtable with host Tessa Pocock about Lighting Challenges in CEA’ on June 24 at Indoor AgTech. See the full programme here.

For more details about Soli Organic, follow them on Instagram and LinkedIn.