Month: July 2021

80 Acres CEO Mike Zelkind Joins October 2021 Keynote Line-Up

80 Acres Farms CEO Mike Zelkind will lead the Day Two CEO Keynote Address for the in-person October 4-5, 2021 edition of Indoor Ag-Con at the Hilton Orlando. Themed “Growing Your Business,” the trade show and conference for indoor |vertical farming | controlled environment agriculture will give attendees the opportunity to explore new resources on the expo floor and hear from Zelkind, other CEOs, thought leaders and industry experts from today’s cutting-edge farms and innovative companies.

“80 Acres has been making headlines this year in a number of areas – from plans to expand its produce offerings to new research initiatives. We are so excited to be returning to our live, in-person format in October and offering a platform for forward-thinking industry leaders like Mike Zelkind to share the indoor farming innovations he and the 80 Acres team are working on,” says Brian Sullivan, co-owner, Indoor Ag-Con LLC.

Scheduled for day two, October 5, 2021, Mike Zelkind’s address will be held from 11:30 am – 12:20 pm. In addition to his CEO role with 80 Acres Farms,  Mike is also Board Member of Infinite Acres (est. 2019), a vertical farming leader providing customers with fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables at affordable prices.

Utilizing world-class technology and analytics, 80 Acres Farms offers customers pesticide-free food with a longer shelf-life and the highest food safety standards while using fewer natural resources to produce over 300x more food on less than 1% of the footprint.  Winner of Fast Company’s eighth “Most Innovative Company in North America,” 80 Acres was also a finalist for Red Herring’s Top 100 North America award, featured two years in a row on Forbes “Best Start-up List,” and awarded the eleventh spot on the “FoodTech 500” list.

For more than 25 years, Mike has been working with top-tier food companies such as General Mills, Del Monte, Bumble Bee, and ConAgra Foods and top-tier consultancies and start-ups AT Kearney and ICG Commerce, focusing on the food industry. Over the last 15 years, he has worked with Private Equity (such as Oaktree Capital and Bain Capital’s Sankaty) to drive over $2.5B of shareholder value.

In addition to headliner keynote sessions from leaders like Mike Zelkind, other 2021 event highlights include:

ROBUST 2021 CONFERENCE SCHEDULE 
 The 2021 conference will include a full roster of keynote sessions, panel discussions, fireside chats and presentations offering a deep dive into three core tracks – Business & Marketing, Science & Technology and Alternative Crops.

The extensive educational conference will be joined by other new initiatives and show highlights, including:

NEW LOCATION:  HILTON ORLANDO – DISCOUNTED HOTEL RATES, TOO
Indoor Ag-Con’s Hilton Orlando venue makes it the perfect opportunity for a business vacation. Centrally located to all major theme parks and attractions, it is just minutes from the eclectic dining scene and entertainment of International Drive. What’s more, the Hilton Orlando resort sits on more than 26 acres of lush landscaping and tropical inspirations making it a true destination of its own. Indoor Ag-Con has arranged for discounted hotel rates for attendees and exhibitors starting as low as $129/night. Complete details are available on the show website.

EXPANDED EXHIBIT FLOOR & NETWORKING OPPORTUNITIES
The Indoor Ag-Con team is working to bring even more resources for farmers/growers to explore across all sectors – everything from IT, energy, AI and lighting solutions to substrates, vertical farming solutions, business services and much more. Attendees and exhibitors alike will also have even more networking opportunities with daily luncheon sessions and receptions on the show floor.

QUICK FACTS:
WHEN:                   Monday, October 4 – Tuesday, October 5 , 2021
WHERE:                 
Hilton Orlando, 6001 Destination Pkwy, Orlando, FL 32819
INFO:                     For information on exhibiting or attending visit www.indoor.ag or email

hello@indoor.ag


ABOUT INDOOR AG-CON LLC
Founded in 2013, Indoor Ag-Con has emerged as the premier trade event for vertical farming | indoor agriculture, the practice of growing crops in indoor systems, using hydroponic, aquaponic and aeroponic techniques. Its events are crop-agnostic and touch all sectors of the business, covering produce, legal cannabis |hemp, alternate protein and non-food crops. In December 2018, three event industry professionals – Nancy Hallberg, Kris Sieradzki and Brian Sullivan – acquired Indoor Ag-Con LLC, setting the stage for further expansion of the events globally. More information: https://indoor.ag

ABOUT 80 ACRES FARMS
80 Acres Farms is a vertical farming leader providing customers with the freshest and most nutritious fruits and vegetables at affordable prices. Utilizing world-class technology and analytics, the Company offers customers a wide variety of pesticide-free food with a longer shelf life that exceeds the highest food safety standards. More information: https://www.eafarms.com

Q & A With 80 Acres Farms CEO Mike Zelkind

Indoor Ag-Con is excited to announced that 80 Acres Farms Co-Founder & CEO  Mike Zelkind will lead one of the headliner CEO Keynote presentations during our October 4-5, 2021 edition at the Hilton Orlando,Mike Zelkind CEO 80 Acres Farms Indoor Ag-Con Keynote Orlando 2021

Utilizing world-class technology and analytics, 80 Acres Farms offers customers a wide variety of pesticide-free food with a longer shelf life that exceeds the highest food safety standards.  And, this vertical farming leader has been making headlines over the past year in a number of areas — from the opening of a new farm to expanded retail partnerships, new research iniatitives and more.

Ahead of his upcoming Indoor Ag-Con October keynote, we had the chance to catch up with Mike to learn more about his company’s exciting developments AND  his thoughts on the fast-growing indoor farming industry itself.

We’re all very excited for you to share what’s been happening at 80 Acres ‘live and in person’ this October in Orlando at Indoor Ag Con – especially news on your incredible new Hamilton, Ohio facility, which opened in January of this year. How’s everything growing there? Any updates you’d like to share?

80 Acres CEO Keynote at Indoor Ag-Con 2021It’s been a fantastic year for us! We opened our largest automated farm in the Fall of 2020, scaling our technology and production 10x greater than prior. Yield, quality, and efficiencies exceeded expectations out of the gate and allowed us to hit our unit economics.

A few months later, we announced our expanded partnership with Kroger, offering nine products across over 300 stores in 4 different regions.

We were also proud to achieve the Kosher certification for our products, one more tool to communicate our promise of exceptionally high quality to consumers.

Lastly, we were honored to tell the story of 80 Acres Farms on a global stage on the BBC docuseries “Follow the Food.”  It was inspiring to showcase the farms we built in our revitalizing city of Hamilton, OH.

 

Help our readers understand your role as CEO of 80 Acres as well as that of your colleague, Tisha Livingston, and her role as CEO at Infinite Acres?

Tisha and I have been in the food industry for over 30 years each, running manufacturing and operations for some of America’s most-loved brands. We have worked together for more than a decade and decided to leave our careers and start our venture, 80 Acres Farms.Mike Zelkind and Tisha Livingston

We wanted to bring fresh food closer to communities, and we felt indoor farming was the answer. I am 80 Acres Farms CEO and Tisha, President. When we built our first commercial farm, not everything scaled as planned. Luckily, we had a fantastic partner, Priva, that was there to help us work thru the complexities.

80 Acres realized that to scale vertical farming, we had to collaborate with world-class companies, and Infinite Acres was born. We launched Infinite Acres in 2019 with our two partners Ocado, UK’s largest online grocer, and Priva, global leading horticulture innovators.

Tisha became CEO of Infinite Acres and resides in the Netherlands half the time each month. Infinite Acres now oversees the technology involved in building and scaling farms globally.

80 Acres is the preferred operator to create an end-to-end solution for customers. The partnership has strengthened our global presence and ability to scale the technology.

Given some of the big industry news of late regarding companies like AppHarvest, Bowery and others (AeroFarms SPAC), how would you describe what you are seeing in terms of industry growth, over the past say three years?

80 Acres Farm CEO Mike Zelkind Keynote Indoor Ag-con 2021Retailers and consumers have a growing appetite for fresh food grown indoors. Retailers want fresher food with shorter supply chains to significantly reduce supply inefficiencies, inconsistent quality and reduce food waste. In addition, consumers are more aware of how their food is grown and its effect on the environment. Therefore, they want food grown with zero, not fewer, pesticides with the highest nutritional value and grown close to store for longer-lasting freshness.

As for the industry, the technology advancements are maturing, better suited for the environments, and costs are coming down to make getting into the business more attainable and farms’ ability to become profitable.

Breeders are beginning to focus on identifying seed varieties beyond lettuce to find characteristics best suited for indoor environments, increasing yield, flavor, and quality.

The advancements in lighting, robotics, automation, breeding, and standardization have led to scaling. The industry and technology weren’t quite ready before now. The culmination of consumer desires and technology advancements has led to extreme growth for the industry. Together with, the great companies you mention above as well as the many other pioneers, we are reinventing the produce industry.  It’s an exciting time for agriculture!80 Acres Farms

Can you share any updates on research projects you have planned through the new collaborative research agreement 80 Acres has with the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station?

Years ago, we build our R&D facility In Arkansas. Late last year we began upgrading It to become a world class R&D Center of Excellence. Our neighbor, University of Arkansas, Is a logical first partner for the facility, but many more are coming soon. The partnerships we are forming are wholistic.

 

Don’t miss Mike Zelkind’s Indoor Ag-Con Orlando 2021 Keynote Address on Tuesday, October 5 at 11:30 AM
REGISTER TODAY!