AppHarvest CEO on scaling sustainable agriculture

20-05-2022    14:51   |    Finance.Yahoo

AppHarvest CEO Jonathan Webb joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss scaling controlled environment agriculture infrastructure, keeping produce prices low, and the future of farming as climate change impacts grow.

Video Transcript

BRAD SMITH: Welcome back to Yahoo Finance Live, everyone. As consumers shift their focus to healthy eating habits and combating climate change, vertical farming is gaining popularity. The space is expected to reach $9.7 billion worldwide by 2026, according to researchandmarkets.com. Some scientists, however, are warning about the limitations there.

Joining us now to discuss the future of agricultural technology, ag tech AppHarvest CEO Jonathan Webb joins us now. Jonathan, good to have you here with us today. The company also recently reported earnings. When you think about broadly some of the investments that your business is making, to really get a larger share of that market, what steps does that mean? And how many different facilities do you need to bring online?

JONATHAN WEBB: Well, this is a challenge that not only the US will be tackling, but the world will be tackling and for the next few decades. So when you say how much do we need to bring on, well, just to bring tomato production back into the US, which currently, we imported about 4 billion pounds of tomatoes from Mexico to the US last year, you would need to build 20,000 acres of what AppHarvest built in Morehead, Kentucky, our first facility with 60 acres, about $140 million investment. So you can do the math on. We need to build a lot of infrastructure over the next decade, and in order to use less land, use less water, and grow more food in the middle of climate disruption.

JULIE HYMAN: Hey, Jonathan, it's Julie here. We have talked before, of course, and you make a compelling argument about why this type of farming is going to be necessary, particularly as climate change becomes more acute. The question is, how you guys are going to make money while doing it in the meantime before it gains more traction. And so looking at your latest quarter here, you guys did raise prices. Of course, we're seeing prices being raised for lots of stuff all across the board. What is going to continue to happen with your pricing dynamic, as you guys try to maintain and even grow your margins?

 

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