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Exclusive: AppHarvest President David Lee On Company's Growth Ahead, Helping The Environment And Push For Change

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Exclusive: AppHarvest President David Lee On Company's Growth Ahead, Helping The Environment And Push For Change

AppHarvest President David Lee joined Benzinga’s “SPACs Attack” to talk about the company’s recent SPAC merger and how the company can grow in the future.

About AppHarvest: Lee joined Appharvest Inc (NASDAQ: APPH) after working with food companies like Del Monte Foods and Impossible Foods.

Lee said he was looking for a company like this and a chance to start with a blank slate.

“I always believed could create a better food company,” Lee said. It was “too intoxicating not to say yes to join the team.”

AppHarvest is producing 40 million tons of tomatoes from its first farm. The company’s goal is to build out to 12 indoor farms in the future.

Helping the Environment: AppHarvest is a company founded with ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) principles. The company is helping reduce the number of tomatoes that sit on trucks for days and are covered in pesticides, according to Lee.

AppHarvest recycles rainwater, which has helped reduce water use by 90% at its first facility.

“Why not create something wholesome and create American jobs?” Lee asks.

Lee notes that AppHarvest is a B Corporation and prides itself with that delegation. “We hold ourselves to a higher standard.”

AppHarvest wants to create an ecosystem that includes suppliers, employees, customers, investors and the company all doing good for the country and climate control.

Related Link: AppHarvest Completes Merger With Novus Capital

Growth Ahead: AppHarvest has an initial focus on tomatoes. In the future, the company can produce all vine-grown products in its indoor farm facilities.

“We go at scale, we go big, we go big with cutting edge technology,” Lee said.

The belief from AppHarvest is the company can do 30 times the typical yield of a traditional farm. The company is not limited to just tomatoes or vine crops and could grow everything people enjoy eating.

AppHarvest raised its financial outlook and also acquired its first indoor farming facility, two positives that could be important in the company’s growth.

“Owning your own first facility allows you to have strategic degree of control,” Lee said. Acquiring the facility will help manage costly lease expenses and also could be used to help secure loans down the road.

Lee told Benzinga that demand is not the issue in the company’s growth, time is. Each farm will take time to ramp up and get to full-scale production.

“We simply can’t make enough food the way we make it,” he said. "Companies need to rethink the way we produce food to help with a growing world population."

Lee tells Benzinga it could be AppHarvest or someone else that can solve this problem. “We’re off to a good start. We’re just getting going,” he said.

Price Action: Shares of AppHarvest were up 3% to $17.41 on Monday.

Click here to watch the full interview with David Lee.

(Photo: Image from Benzinga's SPACs Attack You Tube show)

 

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