Amazon invests in, sells products from sustainable tech company

Amazon-backed Hippo Harvest uses sustainable farming techniques.

Less than two years after investing in climate tech startup company Hippo Harvest, Amazon is now selling its first line of leafy green lettuces.

Hippo Harvest is backed by the Amazon Climate Pledge Fund. Initially announced in June 2020, the Amazon Climate Pledge Fund, is designed to enable Amazon and other companies to meet The Climate Pledge, a commitment to be net-zero carbon by 2040.

Amazon provided initial funding of $2 billion to back visionary companies whose products and services will facilitate the transition to a zero-carbon economy. The e-tail giant announced its first five Climate Pledge Fund investments in September 2020, and began funding Hippo Harvest in December 2021.

Hippo Harvest’s products are grown using 92% less water and 55% less fertilizer than conventional produce, according to the company. The lettuce mixes are farmed using machine learning and robots that operate in greenhouses close to the customer base. 

Amazon Fresh online customers in select San Francisco markets are able to purchase the Hippo Harvest spring mix, gourmet lettuce blends, and baby romaine, which are grown with no pesticides and packaged in 100% post-consumer recycled plastic.

How Hippo Harvest works

Hippo Harvest uses a closed-loop, direct-to-root fertilizer system and machine learning to calculate an efficient amount of water, fertilizer, and light needed to produce high-yield crops, which are grown in repurposed greenhouses. Instead of conventional pesticides, the company uses beneficial insects, peppermint oil, and other natural pest control methods. 

Hippo Harvest’s greenhouses don’t require farmland and are climate-controlled, so they can be located closer to consumers, including in metropolitan areas. Growing produce close to consumers increases the vegetables’ shelf life and reduces carbon emissions by eliminating the need to transport the product over longer distances. 

The company also uses off-the-shelf robots to farm the plants more efficiently. The robots utilize customized attachments that help them deliver precise levels of water and nutrition to the plants, and also help them more delicately harvest the crops. Its first commercial-scale greenhouse is located in Pescadero, Calif.

“Climate change is already impacting how we eat. As water continues to disappear from our agricultural communities, we need solutions that give farmers the ability to make the best use of our natural resources, and ensure everyone has access to fresh produce,” said Amazon VP of worldwide sustainability Kara Hurst. “Amazon’s collaboration with Hippo Harvest is another step forward in our work to support transformative green technologies while also providing our customers with a broader array of grocery options.”

“We’re excited to continue collaborating with Amazon as we work to pioneer growing methods that address some of the biggest challenges facing our food supply and the agriculture sector,” said Hippo Harvest CEO Eitan Marder-Eppstein. “We’re also proud to support the local Pescadero area community by serving as a low-water grower, refurbishing a local community greenhouse to house our operations, and hiring local residents to help us expand our business.”

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