Food distribution and retail for small farms and local food: US leads the way

Matthew Yeomans (Guardian October 8 2012) describes two initiatives that have just combined to serve the retail and distribution needs of small farms:

FoodHub an online dating site whose “goal is to provide the framework for sustainable regional food networks . . .Take the growing trend of schools that have a mandate to buy direct from area farms but don’t know how to make that mandate a reality, for example. . . . .[I]ts tech platform is open for anyone to use with the big idea that Foodhub’s model will spread across the US and, conceivably to other parts of the world too.

and

FoodEx,”a fulfilment hub for locally sourced suppliers . . .”

FoodEx and Foodhub have got together and last week “announced a new joint venture where FoodEx will develop the distribution backbone for Foodhub’s online marketplace. . . . FoodEx has its own trucking fleet, warehouse capacity and an online transaction platform that allows wholesale food buyers to order from a number of different regional producers and then have product delivered through one fulfilment and invoicing system.

In doing so FoodEx provides a transparent distribution service for small food producers and buyers that challenges the economic perils of being reliant on third party brokers. In real terms that means a local farmer who normally would have to sell apples to the main wholesale market for as little as $8 (£5) for 50lbs (even though those apples may later be sold to retailers for five times that amount) will now be able to negotiate the price directly with the retailer. And the FoodEx system isn’t just wishful thinking. In September it moved $80,000 (£50,000) worth of produce on behalf of farming clients.

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