There are lots of reasons that buying local food is better. It’s better for the environment, better for the community, and better tasting. But for restaurants and retailers, buying locally sourced food may not be easier. That’s why Farm’d created a B2B marketplace to connect those food buyers with local food growers.
The premise is pretty simple. Farmers can list and sell their products on Farm’d’s service, and chefs and other food buyers in that area can select and buy them. Farm’d Co-Founder and CEO Chris Damico got the idea when he was a restauranteur and looking to buy local produce. “There was no economical way to get locally sourced food,” said Damico, “and I was frustrated by the options the Syscos of the world were offering.”
So Damico launched Farm’d in January of 2018. “We have a 400 restaurants and retailers on the platform. We’ve got 70 farms selling 1,200 SKUs, all within three hours of Atlanta.”
Right now, Farm’d facilitates meat, dairy and produce sales. Since produce is seasonal and not every fruit or veggie is available in every region year-round, Damico says that it’s only 30 percent of Farm’d’s sales.
“Anybody can sell tomatoes,” Damico said. “You’re not going to buy beef from just anybody. That’s how are we different. Direct, transparent and favorable.”
Another key differentiator for Farm’d, according to Damico, is that the company doesn’t own or use any warehouses, and delivery drivers are all independent contractors. “The farm is the warehouse,” Damico said. “We pick it up when someone wants it and our IP is in the routing.” Damico said that deliveries are made on a daily basis.
So far, Farm’d has raised roughly $3 million in seed and angel funding. The company makes money by charging farmers a straight 10 percent cut of its sales generates via the platform. Farmers can set their own price and tack on the 10 percent fee on top of their sales or subtract it from the total.
Farm’d is part of an interesting overall trend of startups that are in the business of connecting volume food buyers with smaller brands. Pod Foods is a marketplace that connects retailers with smaller CPG brands, and WeStock is a platform for consumers to tell their local grocers which brands they would like to see in store.
Given that Farm’d is simply a marketplace, and says that its special sauce is more in the logistics of food delivery, there’s no reason that it can’t scale relatively quickly to new markets. They still need to enlist new farmers and drivers, but no matter where you are in the country restaurants want food and farmers want to sell food.
If that happens, eating local while eating out could become easier than ever.