- BrightFarms has hired Steve Platt has as its new CEO, according to a company press release. Company founder Paul Lightfoot will stay on as the packaged salad brand's president. Both men will sit on the company's board of directors.
- Platt has spent his career working with CPG companies, most recently as CEO of yogurt brand Icelandic Provisions. Before that, he led Danone brands including Dannon, Oikos and YoCrunch.
- Platt said in a statement that this is an exciting time to join the company as continues to expand nationally, and Lightfoot acknowledged Platt's "know-how" as a leader of CPG brands and his ability to take BrightFarms to the next level.
BrightFarms, which currently operates greenhouses in Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, recently announced plans to open three additional farms in Massachusetts, New York and North Carolina next year. The additional greenhouses are expected to break ground at the end of this year, with production kicking off in early 2020. The expansion shows that the company is ready for aggressive, national growth, and along with that comes the need for a new CEO with expertise to help the company scale.
During his career with national brands, Platt has had particular success with helping brands grow quickly. According to BrightFarms' press release, Platt was at Icelandic Provisions he grew the company to more than 6,500 retail stores and turned it into "the fastest-growing brand in dairy yogurt."
Platt's hire follows two other notable additions this year, both of which position BrightFarms for ongoing growth. In February, Steve Campione joined the company as Chief Financial Officer. Campione brought a background in finance and investment banking and spent a decade raising capital for companies looking to expand. BrightFarms added Brian Jenny as vice president of sales in May, filling a key role to lead business development.
The company is expanding its retail partnerships in areas where its greenhouses operate. As of January, BrightFarms' produce is available at Jungle Jim’s International Marketplace in Ohio, select Food Lion stores in Virginia, Dierbergs in St. Louis and more than 140 Tops Friendly Markets in New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont. BrightFarms also works with Misfits Market, a delivery service that ships imperfect produce to subscribers in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.
Demand for products from companies like BrightFarms continues to grow as Americans prioritize locally grown food. Indoor farming startup Square Roots has partnered with food distributor Gordon Food Service to provide produce to Gordon customers, and vertical farming company AeroFarms recently raised $100 million in funding for expansion.