May 18th, 2020
The way we look at food is changing. In a time of masks, gloves, limited occupancy, and six-feet separations, a trip to the grocery store can consume the larger part of a day, and that does not include meal prep and the time it takes to cook dinner.
With more and more Americans returning to the family dinner table, a renewed emphasis is being placed on what we eat. The sheer volume of sourdough memes on the internet confirms what Forager, a company connecting local food purveyors to consumers, has built their entire mission on — to re-establish our cultural connections to food and to do it locally. In fact, it has to happen locally, with our global supply chain disrupted and our public health under threat. But this return to local trend started well before any rumblings of the Covid19 pandemic, and it makes sense in more ways than one.
Sourcing food locally keeps jobs in the community, reduces our carbon footprint, creates healthier, more sustainable options and ultimately brings us together.
But what about the numbers?
Food is a $4.8 trillion dollar industry, making it the largest industry in the world. In the past decade, the market for local food has grown four times faster than industrial agriculture, reaching $14 billion in 2016. The sector is projected to double again in the next five years alone. David Stone, founder and chairman of Forager, says: “The trend is so strong that 67% of consumers will actually switch grocers to find local food. Everyone is very interested in where their food comes from and how it is grown.” Stone attributes this in part to food safety recalls, changes in climate, concerns about natural resource management and the health crisis.
So how does local food move from farm to table in a way that is cost-effective and quick? Enter Local Food Anywhere (LFA), Forager’s answer to the challenge of connecting wholesale and retail buyers with independent farmers, fishers and grocers. At localfoodanywhere.com, food producers create a simple cloud-based profile listing their inventory to sell to customers who are looking for local, fresh food delivered or available for safe and easy pick-up. There are no barriers to usage as Forager is committed to giving sellers the tools they need to increase markets and their revenue, including helpful training that’s free of cost. And for consumers there’s no cost to search the LFA network of over 400 producers. The entire process is completed remotely and reflected in real-time. LFA streamlines communications between growers and retailers, creating a virtual farmers’ market of delights.
So what’s next, besides a bowl of fresh wild strawberries and a slab of grass-fed beef?
According to Forager CEO Joe Blunda: “The next phase of change is going to come from looking into markets, rebuilding businesses and working with new wholesale buyers and others to enable a local food supply chain for them from day one.” With recent nods from Forbes and Fast Company, Forager is fast becoming a leader in developing the local food model nationwide and maybe even globally.