“Our food system is completely broken.” Just over two minutes into a call with Ben Pugh, CEO of Farmdrop, and we were already getting to the good stuff.
Ben continued, “we think the way mass-produced food is made and distributed is all wrong. We deliver delicious food, direct from local producers.”
Not only is the Farmdrop service super convenient for consumers, it’s fair to farmers, kind to the environment and helps reduce food surplus. Can on-demand, local produce beat Big Food and deliver quality and quantity food/produce?
The Supermarket Economy
Ben Pugh spent a lot of time analysing the numbers behind supermarkets and other retailers during his career as an economist. Supermarkets are big business and the logistics, finances, and issues of supply and demand are hugely complex.
It’s no wonder our food system is broken when it’s something that touches everyone and operates at such a massive scale.
The many and varied issues with food production, distribution and delivery are complex but there’s an even deeper issue according to Ben. He claims “supermarkets are no longer appropriate for our modern lives”.
We’re time poor and have gotten used to the ever connected, on-demand lifestyle that mobile technology has enabled over the last decade. We fill our lives with work, hobbies, travel, friends and family. Increasingly the idea of running errands or going out to pick up groceries is seen as a huge inconvenience.
Supermarkets were once the most convenient outlet to pick up groceries and household goods. They grew from small shops to superstores. Now we have hypermarkets that offer everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to household appliances, clothes, mobile phones and insurance.
But this form of convenience has come at a cost: quality.
Supermarket shelves are stacked high with processed foods. These packaged goods contain refined sugars, high-fructose corn syrup and unpronounceable, six-syllable ingredients.
These cheap ingredients make cheap, mass produced food. Producers are often squeezed on the price for raw ingredients and the pockets of the supermarkets grow deep as our waistlines grow wide.
Over the last decade the NHS has spent more on obesity related illness than those caused by smoking. Our health, our environment and our food producers are suffering.
Farmdrop: The Ethical Grocer
Farmdrop are using mobile technology to connect consumers with quality, fresh produce direct from farmers and small producers. They’re aiming to solve the problems of mass-produced food on a local scale.
Using the Farmdrop website or mobile apps, customers can order on the go. Producers receive real time alerts about what they need to harvest. While the typical supermarket supply chain takes up to five days from farm to shelf, the Farmdrop supply chain takes less than 19 hours.
From the comfort of your sofa, office chair or while you rush from one place to the next, you can order quality, fresh produce. It will be picked to order and delivered within a couple of days.
The Farmdrop services doesn’t just benefit consumers.
According to Farmdrop, most supermarkets give less than half of the retail price to producers. Farmdrop’s producers receive 75% of the retail price.
The mobile technology that powers Farmdrop also enables producers to receive real-time notifications of orders. This means they only need to harvest produce as required. Instead of harvesting an entire field of beetroot, the farmer can literally pull them out of the ground one by one and package them up for specific orders which reduces waste and surplus.
This may not be the most efficient harvesting schedule for farmers but it ensures none of their hard work goes to waste and fresh fruit and veg can wait in the ground or on the tree until required.
Ben summed up the Farmdrop offering perfectly: “we’re offering farmer’s market quality with Ocado convenience”.
The Future of On-Demand Groceries
There’s a big question mark whether on-demand direct to consumer groceries will wipe out supermarkets entirely. The supermarket system is vast and powerful. It’s likely they will be around for many years to come. However, as our lives become even more connected with technology and our desire for on-demand products and services increases, we’ll likely start to see some significant changes in the near future.
On-demand grocery services won’t be a substitute for everything that large supermarkets have on offer. It is possible that other on-demand services will satisfy these needs.
For grocery delivery services like Farmdrop (and others such as Instacart, Quiqup and Grofers) scaling up to take on the supermarkets will not be an easy feat. Balancing technology with infrastructure and logistics is very challenging and has already seen a number of heavily financed startups come and go – even in recent history.
But Farmdrop don’t appear to be after massive scale. Their website states: “we dislike the idea of mass-produced food. Our food comes from local producers who put a lot of love into bringing you the best.”
Farmdrop’s supermarket of the future could be successful even as a regional operation that connects everyday people with quality produce. In this scenario, everyone wins: the producers, the consumers and Farmdrop.
Ben couldn’t have put it better himself: “we want to create a great system where everybody gets a great deal”.
That’s definitely something we should all be able to get behind.