May 31, 2023Vertical farming operator Oishii brings robotics to indoor farming
Oishii, a vertical farming operator, is partnering with a Japanese robotics firm to bring vertical farming changes.
Together with Yaskawa Electric Corp., a leading industrial robotics company based in Japan, Oishii plans to develop new automation solutions to optimize vertical farming methods and scale output, according to a news release.
A series of Yaskawa robotic arms will power the world’s largest vertical strawberry farm, operated by Oishii, according to the release. The robots will work in concert with Oishii’s state-of-the-art infrastructure, technology and urban farmers to harvest strawberries at the peak of freshness. When paired with Oishii’s proprietary tech stack – which includes crop management algorithms, environmental controls, and energy monitors – Yaskawa’s innovations will deliver new efficiencies to reduce food, energy, and water waste, according to the release.
The collaboration between the two firms will also accelerate Oishii’s ability to scale globally. With the introduction of advanced automation across all of Oishii ’s farm facilities, Oishii will be able to meet the increased demand for its vertically farmed strawberries, according to the release.
“Yaskawa is one of the most respected names in industrial robotics today,” Hiroki Koga, Oishii’s co-founder and CEO, said in the release. “Like Oishii, they are guided by the pursuit of quality and believe technology can solve some of the world’s most pressing issues. We’re honored to partner with a company that is invested in our mission to reinvent the future of agriculture. Together, we will deliver forward-looking solutions to bring clean, delicious produce to more people.”
As the first vertical farming company to perfect the strawberry at commercial scale, Oishii harmoniously marries nature, technology, and farming techniques perfected for decades in Japan to grow its prized fruit, which is pollinated naturally with bees. The hyper-locally grown produce is farmed without pesticides and is ripe year-round, according to the release.
The partnership comes on the heels of Oishii’s strong growth. In February, Oishii introduced a new cultivar called the Koyo Berry, marked by its sweetness, balanced acidity, fragrant aroma and slightly firm texture. The Koyo Berry joins Oishii’s popular Omakase berry, which is renowned for its sweetness, aroma and creamy texture, according to the release.
In May 2022, Oishii opened Mugen Farm, the world’s largest indoor strawberry farm which spans more than 74,000 square feet. The farm uses 60% less energy and 40% less water than the company’s first-generation facilities, according to the release. The vertical farming operator is also in development on new types of flowering produce.
Oishii was founded in 2016 by Koga and Brendan Somerville, who met pursuing MBA degrees at Berkeley University. Somerville co-founded an avocado company in Uganda, while Koga worked as a consultant in agriculture technology in Japan.
In 2017, the two built a northern New Jersey research facility 2018 and soon began commercial sales.
In vertical farming, Oishii recreates the elements of rain, air, heat, light and nourishment to preserve and embrace nature for the perfect fruit throughout the year, according to the release. Oishii’s Omakase and Koyo berries, special Japanese strawberries grown pesticide-free in the company’s vertical farms west of the borough of Manhattan in New York.
Oishii’s investors include Sony Innovation Fund and Social Starts. The company was recognized as one of Fast Company’s “World’s Most Innovative Companies” in 2022.
Yaskawa is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of factory automation fields with industrial robots as well as motion controls such as AC servo drives and inverters. Since 1915, Yaskawa has served global automation needs.