Tayside investment pushes automated indoor vertical farming company’s capital raise towards A$100m

Conrad Smith at Stacked Farm's Arundel facility

Conrad Smith at Stacked Farm’s Arundel facility

Stacked Farm’s total capital raised has hit A$98m following a new injection of funding from Tayside Investments Australia.

The Gold Coast-headquartered automated indoor vertical farming technology company will use the capital to help drive commercial expansion.

Tayside – run by the family behind leading Australian foodservice distributor, PFD Food Services – has now become one of Stacked Farm’s largest investors in addition to US-based Magnetar Capital.

PFD Food Services’ departing chief executive Kerry Smith will join the Stacked Farm board alongside another new appointee, Bob East, chairman of KKR-backed Australian Venue Co and newly appointed chairman of AFL team Gold Coast Suns.

Kerry Smith and East will help drive the company’s growth and head up the rollout of Stacked Farm’s proprietary technology, both in Australia and abroad over the coming years. This includes the start of production at the company’s 4,000m2 facility on the Gold Coast mid-year and commencing construction on a new 7,200m2 facility in Melbourne later this year.

Stacked Farm’s capital raise, launched in 2021 with a A$10 goal to fund its first commercial-scale vertical farms, has far exceeded expectations, raising A$40m from alternative asset manager Magnetar Capital alone.

“To raise almost A$100m when we set out with a A$10m target – it’s been the strongest possible statement of confidence in Stacked Farm’s future,” chief executive Conrad Smith said.

Conrad Smith said Tayside, which built PFD into a multi-billion-dollar business headed by Kerry Smith (no relation), offers a deep understanding of the challenges in the food supply chain and the importance of technology to its future.

“I’ve known the family for a long time and have so much respect for what they have achieved with PFD,” Conrad Smith said.

Conrad Smith said the addition of East was an enormous coup for Stacked Farm. East with a group of private investors created the Mantra Group one of Australia’s leading largest hotel and resort businesses. 

East is the former chairman of both Tourism Australia and Tourism Events Queensland as well as recently co-chair of the ASEAN Summit for Business and Tourism and also sat on the Federal Government’s Brand Australia board.

He is also chairman of both ASX-listed Experience Co and Cettire as well as chairman of Australia Venue Co.

“I am delighted to join the Stacked Farm board. Having observed the remarkable development of the business over the past five years, I am eager to work with the highly skilled team responsible for this cutting-edge, world-leading technology.” East said.

Tayside’s Kerry Smith says Stacked Farm’s industry-leading technology and unique end-to-end automation processes are set to revolutionise the fresh greens market.

“Vertical farm technology is producing greens that are inherently safe and high quality through environmental and sustainable production methods,” Jerry Smith said.

“Customers will enjoy the benefits of unparalleled reliability and availability while knowing they are doing the right thing by the planet. We are excited to be part of the journey.”

At Stacked Farm’s Gold Coast facility, the produce is handled end-to-end without touching a human hand in a safe, temperature-controlled environment.

“We’ve made great strides within our research and development chambers, now operating and delivering excellent results,” said Smith.

“These learnings will be fed into the development of new commercial farms for production tailored to growing the best healthy food.”