Everyone (or, at least, most people) wants local food – there’s no denying that. From our local grocery stores and Trader Joe’s, to farmers markets and even our very own gardens, we consumers have grown to associate “local” with freshness, health, sustainability, and community support. Direct Local Food, a Boise-based startup, is helping to increase access to local food, by giving grocers and restaurants owners a much simpler way to connect with local producers.
According to estimates in the agriculture industry, local food sales grew to $4.8 billion in 2007 – up from $1 billion in 2005 – and reached nearly $7 billion by the end of 2012. This continued increase in consumer demand for locally-grown foods has led to a corresponding increase in farmers markets (currently numbered at more than 8,100 according to the USDA) and other direct-to-consumer services that allow for this flow of local goods. And, rightly so, restaurant owners and grocers have responded, with some of the more popular restaurants being those that use local produce or meats (e.g. Chipotle, which supposedly uses locally-sourced meats, had an impressive quarter, with revenues up 28 percent, leading to all-time stock price of $660). The issue, however, is that there is currently a huge disconnect between sellers and buyers.
“I would like to increase the amount of local food purchased in grocery stores and restaurants,” said Direct Local Foods cofounder and CEO Christina McAlpin. “I want to make the process of ordering local food so much more efficient, that local food becomes attainable to more people through mainstream channels.”
According to McAlpin, the current process between local producers and wholesale buyers takes too much time and is way more complicated than it needs to be. Direct Local Foods gives both farms and institutional buyers the tools to help them to better manage these relationships and more efficiently get goods from one end to the other. For farmers/producers, the company offers an easier way for them to manage their inventory and sales, while for wholesale buyers, their platform allows for easy-to-use, streamlined product search and online ordering.
Currently, Direct Local Goods has more than 2,500 food producers and wholesale buyers on their platform. The company charges a low, monthly fee of $28 for both sellers and buyers.
Direct Local Food was most recently featured at our Tech Cocktail Mixer & Startup Showcase in Boise, Idaho this past April.