Hydroponic greens producer Lakeland Fresh Farms partners with regional distributor

September 9, 2022

Published by Crain’s on September 9, 2022, Written by Jay Davis

To help widen its footprint, a startup greens producer based in Macomb County has reached a deal with a regional distributor.

Lakeland Fresh Farms, a producer of hydroponically grown greens based in Chesterfield Township, on Thursday announced a partnership with Detroit-based Riggio Distribution Co., a full-service produce distributor servicing the Midwest. The partnership gives Lakeland Fresh, established in 2021, an opportunity to push its products across the state and expand to big-box retailers, according to a news release.

There is no formal contract in place, according to Lakeland Fresh founder Joe Corace. An agreement is in perpetuity and the companies agreed to certain pricing per produce, Corace said in an email.

All of which should help Lakeland Fresh grow. Corace, who raised $5 million to get Lakeland Fresh up and running, projects 2022 revenue of $1 million and $2 million-$4 million in 2023. The company, which operates in an 80,000-square-foot space at 50750 E. Russell Schmidt Blvd., earned just shy of $1 million in revenue in 2021. Corace in 2021 projected $2 million in revenue in Lakeland Fresh’s first year in business and $5 million-$6 million for this year.

All Lakeland Fresh products are non-GMO and hydroponically grown without chemical pesticides or herbicides. The business utilizes hundreds of LED grow lights and a computer-controlled indoor weather system that uses 90 percent less water than open-field growing, allows for hands-free automation and eliminates the risk of bacterial contamination.

Products include romaine lettuce, baby greens and basil that go from harvest to retailers and restaurants in hours, Lakeland Fresh says.

Lakeland Fresh’s greens are available at all Papa Joe’s, Vince & Joe’s, Hollywood Markets, Busch’s locations. Items can also be found at Neiman’s Family Market in Clarkston and St. Clair, Meijer’s Woodward Corner Market in Royal Oak and Market Fresh Fine Foods in Beverly Hills.

Corace is proud of Lakeland Fresh’s growth, but the company has had some issues in its infancy.

Lakeland Fresh Farms projects the Clinton Tonwship-based greens grower will bring in $1 million in revenue this year and double next year.

RecoveryPark, an urban farm based in Detroit, last year claimed two former investors stole staff and information to help establish Lakeland Fresh.

Corace, who served a short stint in 2020 as RecoveryPark COO, said Lakeland Fresh has no outstanding issues with RecoveryPark.

RecoveryPark officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.