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How to invest in vertical farming stocks

Image of vertical farming with vegetables; learn more about how to invest in vertical farming stocks

Key Points

A rising global population has made maintaining viable agricultural space one of the most pressing farming issues of 2024 and beyond. Vertical farming is a solution to this problem. It is the practice of growing crops indoors in stacked layers, utilizing artificial lighting and a controlled environment to optimize plant growth. In recent years, this technology has gained popularity in producing higher-quality crops.

Learning to invest in vertical farming and related stocks is one of the best ways to gain early access to this growing investment class. But which vertical farming companies' stocks are worth the capital investment? Read on to learn more about how vertical farming works, how to invest in vertical farming stocks, how vertical farm stocks make waves on the market and some of the benefits and risks of this agricultural system.

Understanding the vertical farming industry

Vertical farming is a revolutionary approach to redefining our relationship with food production. By growing crops in vertically stacked layers within controlled environments, this emerging technology offers a sustainable and efficient solution for the future of agriculture.

The rise of vertical farming

Statistics paint a clear picture of the burgeoning demand for vertical farming. The global market should reach $42.5 billion by 2032, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25.5%. Several factors drive this rapid expansion:

  • Urbanization: As cities sprawl, access to arable land dwindles. Vertical farming presents a solution by bringing food production closer to consumers and reducing transportation costs and carbon footprints.
  • Resource efficiency: Vertical farming uses less water and land than traditional methods. Additionally, controlled environments minimize pesticide and fertilizer needs, promoting environmental sustainability.
  • Year-round production: Unreliant on weather conditions, vertical farms can operate year-round, ensuring a consistent supply of fresh, high-quality produce regardless of the season.

Government involvement

Governments worldwide have recognized the potential of vertical farming and have taken action to support its development. Initiatives include:


  • Research and development grants: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers grants to support research and development in vertical farming technologies and applications.
  • Tax incentives: Some countries like Singapore offer tax breaks to encourage investments in vertical farming projects.
  • Policy frameworks: Governments are developing regulations and standards to ensure the safety and quality of food produced on vertical farms.

Breaking down the industry

The vertical farming industry encompasses a diverse range of players:

  • Vertical farm operators: Vertical farm operators build and operate large-scale vertical farms, producing various crops for wholesale and retail sectors.
  • Technology providers: Companies like Hydrofarm develop and supply hydroponics, lighting and automation systems for vertical farms.
  • Consulting services: Firms offer expertise in vertical farm design, construction and operational management.
  • Investors: Asset management companies and venture capitalists are playing a crucial role in financing the growth of this industry.

Vertical farming's place in agriculture

While vertical farming presents a promising solution, it's essential to recognize its limitations. It's often costlier than traditional agriculture and primarily focused on high-value crops like leafy greens and herbs. However, as technology advances and the industry matures, it's expected to become more cost-effective and expand its crop range.

Vertical farming represents a critical piece of the puzzle in transitioning towards a more sustainable and resilient agricultural system. It can complement traditional agriculture by addressing land and resource constraints, providing fresh produce in urban areas and enhancing food security in the face of climate uncertainty.

Overview of vertical farming stocks: definition and list of stocks

Key factors influencing vertical farming stocks

The appeal of vertical farming goes beyond the rows of lush lettuce stacked high in urban settings. For investors, it's a burgeoning landscape with many promising stocks. However, navigating this emerging market requires understanding the unique factors that set these green giants apart. Let's explore the key forces that can make vertical farming companies' stocks soar or wither.

Technology and innovation

Think of vertical farming as a high-tech salad bowl. Cutting-edge technologies fuel its growth, influencing both efficiency and investor confidence:

  • Hydroponics and aeroponics: These water-based systems replace soil with nutrient-rich mists or solutions, minimize resource use and improve yield control. Advances in sensor technology further optimize these systems, attracting investor interest.
  • LED lighting: The sun in this concrete jungle comes in the form of precisely controlled LED systems. Companies developing energy-efficient and spectrum-specific LEDs gain an edge, enticing investors with the promise of reduced operational costs.
  • Automation and AI: From robotic planting and harvesting to AI-powered environmental control, automation promises increased yields and reduced labor costs. Investors keen on operational efficiency flock to companies at the forefront of automation.

Market dynamics

Beyond the gleam of technology, broader market forces shape the fortunes of vertical farming stocks:

  • Economic factors: Consumer spending, inflation and energy costs directly impact operational costs and market demand for vertical produce. A strong economy with rising disposable income bodes well for stock performance.
  • Consumer trends: The growing appetite for sustainable, locally sourced food fuels the demand for vertical farming. Companies tapping into this trend, like those focusing on organic produce and vegan foods, attract investor attention.
  • Global market dynamics: Growing populations in urban areas, particularly in regions with limited arable land, create exciting opportunities for vertical farming companies. Investors watch closely for market expansion efforts and partnerships in these regions.

Beyond the binary

Remember, the vertical farming landscape is diverse. A high-performing hydroponics technology provider may have a different fate than a struggling urban farm operator. Consider these additional factors:

  • Company performance: Financial stability, operational efficiency and experienced management teams are crucial for long-term success. Investors scrutinize company financials and leadership to assess future potential.
  • Competitive landscape: A crowded market with numerous innovative players can lead to price competition and slower growth. Identifying companies differentiating themselves through unique technologies or niche markets can offer an edge.
  • Regulatory environment: Government policies, subsidies and regulations can significantly impact the industry. Investors monitor supportive regulatory frameworks as they signal a government's commitment to fostering vertical farming growth.

By understanding these key factors and their interplay, investors can navigate the vertical farming space with informed decisions. Remember, like any emerging industry, volatility is inevitable. But by keeping your finger on the pulse of technology, market forces and individual company performance, you can identify the green shoots with the strongest potential to blossom.

Evaluating vertical farming stocks

The burgeoning field of vertical farming has a diverse landscape of companies, each with the potential to become a green giant of the future. However, more than excitement is needed to guarantee success. Careful analysis is required to discern genuine growth potential from mere hype. 

  • Agrify Corporation NASDAQ: AGFY: This tech-driven company provides hardware, software and data analytics solutions for indoor and vertical farms. AGFY empowers existing growers and optimizes operations, offering a different angle than pureplay operators. However, its reliance on the broader adoption of its technology carries potential risks.
  • Hydrofarm Holdings Group NASDAQ: HYFM: As the leading supplier of hydroponic equipment and supplies, HYFM benefits from the overall growth of the vertical farming industry. Its diverse customer base, including both commercial and hobbyist growers, provides some stability. However, HYFM's stock price, while more stable than pure-play operators, can still be volatile compared to traditional agricultural stocks.
  • Scotts Miracle-Gro Company NYSE: SMG: This household name offers diversification for investors seeking exposure to vertical farming through its stake in The Hawthorne Gardening Company. The company's established brand recognition, existing distribution channels and SMG’s institutional investors could be valuable assets for vertical farming ventures. However, its limited direct involvement compared to pureplay companies translates to slower growth potential.
  • BrightSphere Investment Group NYSE: BSIG: For those seeking a diversified approach, BSIG offers indirect exposure to vertical farming through investments in AppHarvest and other promising players. It mitigates single-company risks but also dilutes potential returns compared to direct investments. Additionally, BSIG's fees may reduce overall gains for investors.
  • GrowGeneration Corp. NASDAQ: GRWG: This hydroponics retailer offers a unique perspective within the vertical farming landscape. GRWG's focus on providing commercial and hobbyist grower equipment and supplies aligns with HYFM, but its retail-centric model presents different challenges and opportunities.
  • Village Farms International Inc. NASDAQ: VFF: This Canadian agricultural company leverages its expertise in greenhouse production to expand into vertical farming for leafy greens and cannabis. VFF's established infrastructure and experience in controlled-environment agriculture provide potential advantages. However, regulatory uncertainties surrounding cannabis in some regions and limited exposure to the U.S. market require consideration.

Financial indicators and insights

While market trends and buzzwords are captivating, comparing agricultural stocks key financial indicators is crucial for informed investment decisions:

  • Revenue and growth: While profitability remains elusive for many, analyzing revenue growth provides a glimpse into market traction. AGFY's rapid topline growth compared to established players like HYFM is noteworthy, but its early-stage status necessitates caution.
  • Profitability and margins: While not yet profitable, comparing gross margins can offer insights into cost efficiency. HYFM's strong margins indicate control over operational costs, while AGFY's focus on technology may impact its margin structure differently.
  • Debt levels: High debt-to-equity ratios can signal financial risk, especially for early-stage companies. BSIG, as an asset management firm, naturally holds less debt than pure-play operators like AGRY. However, investors should assess the underlying financial health of the companies within BSIG's portfolio.

Deciphering the financial landscape

Deciding which vertical farming stocks to buy requires navigating complex financial reports. Here are some tips to help you along the way:

  • Focus on the fundamentals: The income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statements offer crucial insights into a company's revenue, expenses, assets, liabilities and overall financial health.
  • Trend analysis: Comparing key financial figures year-over-year reveals trends and helps identify areas of growth or potential concerns.
  • Ratio analysis: Calculating key ratios like price-to-sales (P/S), debt-to-equity and operating margin allows standardized company comparisons and clarifies their relative financial performance.

Beyond the numbers

Financial analysis is essential, but other elements also affect vertical farming stocks. When assessing your next investment, you should also consider a few additional factors:

  • Market dynamics: Understand each company's specific market segment, target audience, and regional growth potential.
  • Competitive landscape: A crowded market can lead to price competition and slower growth. Identify companies with clear differentiators, such as unique technologies or strategic partnerships.
  • Regulatory environment: Government policies, subsidies and regulations can significantly impact the industry. Monitor supportive frameworks that signal government commitment to vertical farming growth.

Investing in vertical farming stocks comes with inherent risks. Before diving in, it is crucial to conduct thorough due diligence and develop an understanding of the industry's unique dynamics. By applying these analytical tools and staying informed about the evolving landscape, you can cultivate informed investment decisions in this fertile growth field.

Six best vertical farming stocks

The promising field of vertical farming offers solutions to food security, sustainability, and resource efficiency. However, navigating this emerging industry can be daunting, especially for investors looking to identify the most promising startups.

To help you cultivate informed investment decisions, we've compiled a list of six promising vertical farming stocks, each representing a unique corner of this thriving ecosystem. From pureplay operators cultivating leafy greens in high-tech towers to established giants dipping their toes into the vertical revolution, this diverse selection offers a window into the various opportunities shaping the future of agriculture.

Agrify Corporation

Agrify Corporation NASDAQ: AGFY is known for its cutting-edge technology, which it uses to equip indoor and vertical farms with hardware, software and data analytics solutions. This allows existing growers to optimize their operations and potentially usher in a data-driven future for farming. However, as a relatively young company, Agrify carries a higher inherent risk for investors seeking immediate returns. The high growth potential of this company comes alongside the need for careful due diligence.

BrightSphere Investment Group 

BrightSphere Investment Group NYSE: BSIG takes a different path, offering indirect exposure to vertical farming through investments in established players. This approach mitigates single-company risks, diversifies your portfolio, and provides a safety net. However, it's important to acknowledge the trade-off: potential returns may be lower than direct investments in individual companies. Additionally, factor in BSIG's fees and the performance of their underlying portfolio companies when evaluating your investment options.

GrowGeneration 

GrowGeneration Corp. NASDAQ: GRWG is crucial in fueling the vertical farming engine. Their extensive network of hydroponics retail stores caters to commercial and hobbyist growers, supplying essential equipment and resources like nutrients, lighting systems, and growing media. This established player offers stability and familiarity for investors, alongside the security of knowing they're contributing to the industry's growth. However, it's important to remember that GrowGeneration's focus on retail may differ from the direct production and operational aspects of pureplay vertical farming companies.

Hydrofarm Holdings Group

Hydrofarm Holdings Group Inc. NASDAQ: HYFM is a towering figure in the vertical farming landscape, holding a dominant position as a hydroponic equipment and technology supplier. Their extensive customer base, including hobbyists and large-scale commercial farms, speaks to their established reputation and proven track record. This translates to relative stability for investors compared to newer companies but can translate to more potential growth prospects. HYFM offers a haven for those seeking a reliable entry point into the industry.

Scotts Miracle-Gro Company

A household name in gardening, Scotts Miracle-Gro Company NYSE: SMG ventures into vertical farming through its stake in the Hawthorne Gardening Company. This approach strategically leverages their established brand recognition and extensive distribution channels, offering a familiar face for investors already comfortable with the gardening industry. 

SMG's direct involvement in vertical farming remains limited compared to pureplay companies. It may impact their growth potential in the long run. Overall, analysts rate Scotts Miracle-Gro favorably when looking at the company.

Village Farms International

Village Farms International Inc. NASDAQ: VFF brings valuable expertise from the world of greenhouse production to the vertical farming table. They focus on leafy greens and cannabis, leveraging its knowledge of controlled-environment agriculture. This experience offers potential advantages in terms of operational efficiency and crop yields. However, investors should be aware of the regulatory uncertainties surrounding cannabis in certain regions, which could pose potential challenges or limitations.

Other ways to invest in vertical farming

While buying and selling shares of stocks in multiple agricultural sectors can be one of the most direct ways to invest in vertical farming, it isn't your only option. If searching for and purchasing top-rated stocks to buy isn't for you, consider these alternative investment options. 

Agricultural funds

Investing in agricultural funds is a way to gain exposure to the agriculture industry and benefit from the growth of innovative and sustainable agriculture technologies like vertical farming. Agricultural funds are collections of stocks that trade as a single unit, providing investors with instant diversification. Funds might be structured as agricultural exchange-traded funds (ETFs) or mutual funds, depending on the company issuing and managing them. 

The VanEck Vectors Agribusiness ETF NYSE: MOO is an example of an agricultural ETF that invests in vertical farming operations. Check out the VanEck chart before you invest. 

Examples of ETFs with vertical farming exposure include the VanEck Vectors Agribusiness ETF NYSE: MOO and the iShares MSCI Agriculture Producers ETF NYSE: VEGI

Agricultural REITs

Real estate investment trusts (REITs) own or finance income-producing real estate properties and distribute at least 90% of their taxable income to shareholders as dividends. Agricultural REITs rent fertile land to farming and agribusiness companies and return a portion of this rent to shareholders. Examples of agricultural REITs include Farmland Partners, Inc. NYSE: FPI and the Gladstone Land Corporation NASDAQ: LAND.

How to develop an investment strategy

Vertical farming's rise presents exciting opportunities for investors. But navigating this fertile landscape requires careful planning and a well-developed strategy. Let's explore different approaches, weigh long-term versus short-term horizons, and discover how to build a diversified portfolio for optimal harvest in vertical farming stocks.

Choosing your investment lens

Are you seeking long-term capital appreciation? Consider early-stage, technology-driven players like Agrify. While their volatility may be higher, their potential for disruption and growth can be substantial.

But if you are looking for quicker returns? Established players like Scotts Miracle-Gro or Hydrofarm Holdings Group (HYFM) offer relative stability through their diversified customer base and proven track record. However, potential returns may be more modest compared to high-growth companies.

Building a diversified portfolio

With an array of promising players in the vertical farming landscape, crafting a diversified portfolio is key to maximizing opportunities and mitigating risks. Here's how to spread your seeds across the fertile ground:

  • Spread the risk: Don't put all your eggs in one basket! Diversify your portfolio across different companies and stages of development. Include established names alongside promising newcomers. This mitigates single-company risks and provides exposure to diverse growth potential.
  • Consider indirect exposure: For a broader approach, consider investment groups like BrightSphere Investment Group or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) focused on the agricultural technology sector. While direct returns may be lower, you benefit from diversification and expert portfolio management.

Balancing risk and return

In the burgeoning vertical farming industry, the key to a profitable investment is striking the perfect balance between risk and reward.

  • Know your risk tolerance: This is crucial! Are you comfortable with high volatility but potentially higher returns, or do you prioritize stability and lower risk? Align your investment choices with your risk appetite.
  • Set investment goals: Clearly define your short- and long-term investment goals. Are you seeking quick profits or building long-term wealth? Understanding your objectives will guide your portfolio construction and allocation of funds.
  • Stay informed: The vertical farming landscape is constantly evolving. Regularly research companies, track industry trends, and stay updated on regulatory developments to adapt your strategy as needed.

By carefully adhering to these tips and planning your strategy, you can develop a well-rounded and balanced investment approach in the promising field of vertical farming. Remember, patience, research, and a healthy amount of risk management are essential for a successful harvest.

Risk factors in vertical farming investments

While vertical farming offers tantalizing opportunities, it's crucial to acknowledge inherent risks before sowing your investment seeds. Here's a guide to potential pitfalls and strategies to navigate them.

Market volatility

While vertical farming paints a promising picture of agricultural innovation, investors must be prepared for this industry's challenges. The relative youth of the field translates to higher market volatility, where stock prices can experience significant and unpredictable swings. 

Economic downturns further amplify these volatile tendencies. Consumer spending and confidence may falter amidst economic turbulence, damaging the demand for vertical farming products. Investors should, therefore, factor in the broader economic climate alongside company-specific considerations when evaluating their ventures.

Regulatory challenges

While offering alluring prospects, the emerging field of vertical farming has its regulatory drawbacks. A major hurdle is the ever-changing legal landscape, especially concerning cannabis cultivation. Governments worldwide are still developing and revising rules for this industry sector, causing considerable consternation for investors. This unstable environment can pose considerable hazards, as shifting regulations may produce unforeseen legal obstacles and jeopardize investments.

Beyond cannabis, a broader dependence on cutting-edge technology presents another layer of regulatory complexity. Many vertical farming operations rely heavily on innovative technologies for climate control, artificial lighting, and other crucial aspects of production. 

However, these technologies still need to be developed, and their widespread adoption faces potential roadblocks. Any unforeseen delays or challenges in their implementation could significantly impact vertical farms' operational efficiency and profitability, posing a risk to investors.

Therefore, navigating the regulatory environment and remaining abreast of legal developments is crucial for those seeking to invest in vertical farming. A thorough understanding of existing regulations, a keen eye on potential changes, and a willingness to adapt strategies based on the evolving legal landscape are essential for mitigating risk and capitalizing on the promising opportunities within this dynamic field.

Environmental risks

While vertical farming promises a greener future for agriculture, you can't ignore concerns surrounding its environmental footprint. 

One key challenge lies in the industry's dependence on intensive artificial lighting and climate control systems. These energy-intensive processes raise questions about the long-term sustainability of vertical farming and its potential contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. Achieving widespread adoption and maintaining a positive environmental impact necessitates significant energy efficiency advancements across the various vertical farming technologies. 

This means prioritizing renewable energy sources, optimizing climate control systems, and developing more efficient lighting solutions.

Another crucial factor in ensuring sustainable practices is efficient water management. Vertical farming operations require significant water for irrigation and climate control. However, concerns regarding water scarcity and competition with traditional agriculture exist. The industry must prioritize water recycling and conservation strategies to ensure economic viability and environmental responsibility. This includes exploring closed-loop systems that minimize water waste, utilizing innovative irrigation technologies, and adopting drought-resistant crops when possible.

Addressing these environmental challenges is not solely an ethical imperative but also a strategic one. Consumers increasingly value sustainability, and businesses committed to minimizing their environmental impact will likely gain a competitive edge. Therefore, vertical farming companies that invest in renewable energy solutions, water conservation technologies, and sustainable practices will not only mitigate environmental risks but also position themselves for long-term success in a future increasingly focused on green solutions.

Mitigating the risks

While the allure of vertical farming's potential is undeniable, navigating the inherent risks requires a strategic approach to manage exposure and maximize returns. You can employ several key strategies to cultivate a more resilient investment portfolio in this dynamic field:

  • Diversification is key: The developing industry emphasizes spreading your investments across companies with diverse approaches and business models. This will help mitigate the risks associated with putting too much faith in any company. Diversification across stages of development can also be beneficial, as it can balance the potential for higher growth in newer ventures with the relative stability of more mature companies.
  • Continuous knowledge is power: Staying informed is vital in an evolving landscape like vertical farming. Continuously research companies, track industry trends, and monitor regulatory developments. By staying ahead of the curve, you can make informed adjustments to your investment strategy and minimize exposure to emerging risks.
  • The long-game mentality: Embracing volatility and viewing vertical farming as a long-term play is crucial for managing risk. Short-term market fluctuations can occur in this emerging industry. Patience and a balanced perspective are key when navigating the inevitable ups and downs of this promising but still maturing field.

By acknowledging the inherent risks and employing these risk management strategies, investors can confidently navigate the fertile ground of vertical farming. Diversification, continuous knowledge acquisition, and a long-term perspective are essential tools for mitigating risks and cultivating a potentially fruitful harvest in this innovative and impactful agricultural revolution.

Investing in vertical farming for the future

If you're an investor interested in exploring the realm of vertical farming, you can gain diversification within multiple agricultural sectors with the most recommended investments listed above. For example, in addition to its investments in sustainable vertical farming, Scotts Miracle-Gro is a top name in pesticide creation and gardening supplies. Another example is to hedge your portfolio against inflation by purchasing wheat stocks

Exploring each company's full portfolio before choosing which stocks to buy and sell can give you a complete understanding of your exposure as an investor. 

FAQs

Still have a few questions about which vertical farming stocks to buy? The following are a few last-minute answers to investors' most common questions about vertical farm stocks.

Can you invest in vertical farming?

Yes, it is possible to invest in vertical farming, and there are several investment vehicle options. Some of the most common vertical farming investment options include individual shares of stock, agricultural mutual funds and ETFs and direct startup investments. Investors should consider the developing nature of the vertical farming industry before choosing where to invest and how much risk they're comfortable with.

What companies are working on vertical farming?

There are many startups and publicly traded companies working on vertical farming integrations. Some examples of vertical farming companies include AppHarvest NASDAQ: APPH, BrightSphere Investment Group NYSE: BSIG and Scotts Miracle-Gro NYSE: SMG. Additionally, there are hundreds of startups involved in vertical farming that are not yet publicly traded. 

Is vertical farming profitable?

Vertical farming can offer advantages over traditional farming methods, such as growing crops in a controlled environment, year-round production and potentially higher yields. These advantages can result in lower costs for inputs such as water, fertilizers and pesticides and potentially higher prices for premium produce. 

However, as vertical farming is still a developing industry, startup costs are higher than traditional farming operations. This directly impacts the overall rate of return vertical farming investors will see. 

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Jeffrey Neal Johnson
About The Author

Jeffrey Neal Johnson

Contributing Author

Retail and Technology Stocks

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Companies Mentioned in This Article

CompanyMarketRank™Current PricePrice ChangeDividend YieldP/E RatioConsensus RatingConsensus Price Target
iShares MSCI Agriculture Producers ETF (VEGI)N/A$35.57-1.2%1.80%8.65N/AN/A
Lear (LEA)
4.9525 of 5 stars
4.95 / 5 stars
$116.45-2.1%2.64%12.70Moderate Buy$157.80
MSCI (MSCI)
4.9533 of 5 stars
4.95 / 5 stars
$534.20-2.2%1.20%36.46Moderate Buy$589.79
Scotts Miracle-Gro (SMG)
2.8045 of 5 stars
2.80 / 5 stars
$66.63-3.1%3.96%-10.68Hold$71.67
V.F. (VFC)
3.7721 of 5 stars
3.77 / 5 stars
$15.97-1.8%2.25%-6.39Hold$14.19
VanEck Vectors Agribusiness ETF (MOOCRRD)N/A$0.00flatN/AN/AN/AN/A
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