Oct 28, 2021Shenandoah Growers has a new identity, Soli Organic, with $120M investment
Soli Organic Inc., formerly known as Shenandoah Growers Inc., the nation’s only soil-based, controlled environment agriculture company delivering 100% USDA certified organic produce to more than 20,000 retail stores nationwide, announced Oct. 27 a $120 million financing arrangement with leading real estate development firm Decennial Group.
The company also launched a new corporate name and brand, Soli Organic. The word Soli is derived from the Latin word for soil and reflects the pivotal role of soil in enabling the company’s mission to make low-cost, high-quality, organic produce grown nearby available to everyone.
Founded in 1989, Soli Organic is the first produce category leader to transition from outdoor field to controlled-environment production. The company’s proprietary, soil-based controlled-environment system enables it to deliver on the full promise of indoor agriculture. Its use of soil has enabled Soli Organic to achieve very low unit costs for organic produce, rivaling most outdoor field production and considerably lower than any other indoor – and non-organic – agriculture company. Its organic production system, water- and energy-efficient technologies, and strategic farm locations support a best-in-class sustainability profile.
The arrangement with Decennial Group is a key component of the company’s strategy to further expand production capacity to meet growing demand. The company intends to build eight new farms, in addition to its seven farms in operation today. The Decennial Group financing will support construction of three of the eight planned facilities. Each 100,000 square foot facility will have an annual production capacity of 5 million pounds. The company recently broke ground on the first facility financed through Decennial Group, which is located in Anderson County, South Carolina, and is anticipated to be operational by Q2 2022.
The arrangement with Decennial Group – a developer-led investment management firm committed to preserving the natural and cultural resources of the communities it serves through environmentally responsible investments – is one of the largest of its kind for a controlled environment agriculture company to date.
“Working with Soli Organic aligns perfectly with the Decennial Group core mission to add value for best-in-class operating companies seeking an optimized real estate investment and development solution,” Scott Goodman, Decennial Group Managing Partner, said in a news release. “We could not be prouder of this arrangement with Soli Organic, which we believe will support the company’s mission-critical real estate needs in a way that is effective, efficient and highly scalable, while maximizing social impact.”
The company’s success over more than three decades has attracted a total of $125 million from a growing coalition of strategic food and ag tech- and environmental, social and governance (ESG)-focused investors. Recently added equity partners include Cascade Investment, LLC and Alexandria Venture Investments, LLC. Existing investors also include Advantage Capital Partners, Arborview Capital, DNS Capital, Middleland Capital, S2G Ventures, Skyline Global Partners, and XPV Water Partners.
“Through our proprietary soil-based, organic, indoor production system, Soli Organic is the first company to unlock the full value of controlled environment agriculture, including considerable cost savings and environmental benefits. Support from Decennial Group and equity partners enables Soli Organic to further scale and share those benefits with more retail customers and more consumers in more geographies,” said Matt Ryan, chief executive officer of Soli Organic. “As a result, Soli Organic is well-positioned to continue to build on our strong legacy of financial and market performance, execute against our growth plan, and deliver differentiated organic products that meet existing and future customer demand.”
As part of its growth strategy, the company has made a series of recent strategic hires to its Executive Leadership Team (ELT), including former Starbucks executive Matt Ryan as CEO; former Postmates senior vice president Mike Buckley as Chief Financial Officer; former Walmart executive Cameron Geiger as Chief Operating Officer; and leading plant biology and lighting expert Dr. Tessa Pocock as Chief Science Officer. They join longstanding ELT members President Philip Karp, Chief Customer Officer Steven Wright and Chief Technology Officer Ulf Jönsson.
The corporate name change to Soli Organic Inc. is effective immediately. Product branding will begin to convert to Soli Organic on select product lines in spring 2022.
Founded in 1989 as Shenandoah Growers Inc., Soli Organic Inc. is the leading grower and marketer of fresh organic culinary herbs in the United States, providing sustainable, USDA certified organic, regionally grown produce to retailers coast-to-coast. The Rockingham, Virginia-based company has developed the nation’s largest commercial indoor organic, soil-based growing system and continues to redefine how to bring fresh, organic, and sustainably farmed produce to market – operating across a nationally integrated platform of farms, production, and logistics facilities. For more information, please visit www.soliorganic.com.
The Decennial Group is a vertically integrated real estate investment and development platform led by cycle-tested managers committed to delivering enhanced returns with real social impact. To learn more, please visit www.decennialgroup.com.