Thanks to the pandemic, we’ve seen a surge in online grocery shopping and a rising demand from consumers to know more about where their food comes from than they’d traditionally get from a big-box grocery retailer. At the same time, local farmers are struggling to make up revenue lost during shelter-in-place mandates that closed restaurants and farmers markets.
All of that makes it an apt time for CropSwap, an app that connects customers with local farmers and food growers, to launch a new subscription service. Today, the Los Angeles-based startup announced CropBox, its direct-to-consumers subscription service through which customers receive boxes of produce, seeds, and other items from nearby farmers.
CropSwap bills itself “the Instacart for local produce.” Launched in April — smack in the middle of the pandemic — the app was originally developed to cut down on the food waste that happens along the supply chain between farms and consumers. Customers can browse items, view inventory in real time, and communicate directly with farmers.
The addition of the CropBox means customers can also now sign up to receive curated boxes of produce, seeds, honey, and other items from local farmers. Based on their location, users can choose from several types of boxes as well as set the quantity of the box and how often they want to receive one (e.g., weekly, monthly).
Right now, CropBoxes available to consumers in NYC, Hawaii, LA, and Miami, FL.
CropSwap, and now CropBox with it, join a growing number of companies trying to connect more consumers with local farmers, from bean marketplaces to online flour sellers. And in April, CSA deliveries were up 405 percent, according to data from Foursquare.
The big question right now is whether this increased demand for local produce will survive past the pandemic. For the sake of local farmers and food growers and their businesses, let’s hope so.