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Wednesday, 27 March 2019 11:41

QA with David Stone

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Recently I had the chance to have an interesting discussion with David D. Stone, the Founder of Forager (goforager.com).  Forager is simplifying the local food sourcing process to make it easier for people to benefit from local food. Consumers are increasingly demanding fresh, local food. Yet grocers, distributors, and institutions find it challenging to source locally. Forager is seeking to change all of this to make local food more widely available for everyone.

How did you get interested in local food? 

My grandparents were farmers who migrated from Europe in the early 1900s. While they farmed for many years, they were forced to sell of farm off in the 1960s as big agricultures scale and dominance drove many small farms out of business.  So local food, and the many benefits of local food, has always been in my blood. As we were raising our five kids we always tried to feed them healthy food that was locally sourced through community supported agriculture. After some very successful tech business ventures, I wanted to create a lasting impact by finding a way to make local food more available to everyone since food impacts our health, the environment and our socioeconomic conditions. And I knew that by using technology we could make it happen!

Why is local food important?

Based on research we recently conducted, respondents identified “local, fresh” as their top criteria (27%) for “healthy” food, closely followed by “vegetarian/vegan”(24%) and “organic” (22%) - common attributes of local produce. Consumers aren’t the only beneficiaries of local food - 64% said that “supporting the local economy” was a purchasing motivator. The sticking point - availability, with 100% of respondents citing either “limited options” and/or “unavailable at stores” as their biggest challenges to buying local food. The opportunity for conventional and independent grocers is clear, with 93% of respondents stating that they would buy more local food, if their primary grocery stores offered it. Over one-third of respondents stated that the best place for them to find local food is farmers’ markets or farm shares/CSAs (i.e., seasonal markets), rather than independent or large regional grocery stores. This means that grocers are missing a critical opportunity to offer the consumers what they want most – access to fresh, local food year-round.

How can technology be used to make it easier for food retailer and distributors to source local food? 
For grocers, the traditional process of finding and doing business with multiple local farmers has historically been expensive, inefficient, manual, and error-prone. Farmers also struggle with inefficient processes like sharing their products and updating their availability. While larger distributors can get some local foods through aggregators and other sources, it is really difficult to manage working with hundreds of independent suppliers without a technology tool. 

How does Forager’s platform make getting local food to the shopper easier?

Our platform is a digital pipeline for local food, connecting grocers to independent farms and suppliers, making the flow of local food much easier. Basically we have built a B2B e-commerce platform that organizes independent suppliers on the platform for a grocer. With a few clicks the grocer can fill the basket and place the order. Forager tracks deliveries, removes the need for paper invoices, allows for e-payments and enables farms to promote new products so they can sell more. Further, we are able to provide data and analytics to improve assortment, margin and profitability. In the last two years, nearly 60,000 local products have been purchased through Forager and this is just the beginning. 

Any closing thoughts? 

Only that I truly believe we can make local food available to many more people, by using technology to implement a much more efficient process for grocers, farmers, distributors and co-ops. 

Thank you David!

Last modified on Wednesday, 27 March 2019 13:34
Brian Numainville

Brian Numainville
Principal, RFG

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