Cargill and AeroFarms, a vertical farming company, have entered into a multi-year research agreement that aims to improve cocoa bean yields and develop more climate-resilient farming practices. The companies also will seek ways to improve the cocoa bean’s flavor and color potential. The collaboration brings together AeroFarms’ experience in controlled environment agriculture with Minneapolis-based Cargill’s knowledge of cocoa agronomy and production practices.
“Environmental challenges and growing demand for cocoa products are placing increased pressure on the global cocoa supply chain,” says Niels Boetje, managing director Cargill Cocoa Europe. “Through partnerships with research institutes, universities and innovative companies like AeroFarms, we are collaborating across sectors in bold experiments to bring greater productivity and resiliency to traditional cocoa farming operations. We look forward to sharing our findings with the farmer cooperatives in our cocoa supply chain to help ensure a thriving cocoa sector for generations to come.”
Exploratory work has begun at AeroFarms global headquarters in Newark, NJ. Eventually research will occur in AeroFarms AgX Research & Development indoor vertical farm in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. That facility is scheduled to open early in 2022.
“AeroFarms shares a similar vision as Cargill to nourish the world in a safe, responsible and sustainable way,” says David Rosenberg, co-founder and chief executive officer of AeroFarms. “We have grown over 550 different crops, and we are excited to be working on another project with them, this time focused on cocoa. At AeroFarms we think of our proprietary technology as a platform to optimize plant biology, genetics, mechanical systems, operational systems, environmental systems and digital controls, data capture and analytics.”