Access to healthy food should be a right, not a privilege. But in a lot of towns across America, there isn't a Whole Foods for hundreds of miles. And while a lot of families rely on fast food drive-throughs and frozen dinners for sustenance, one startup aims to bring healthiness to everyone's table, no matter the zip code.
Wholeshare is a group-purchasing platform that aggregates orders from people within a community into one group order. By shopping together as a group, Wholeshare users are able to skip the grocery store and buy directly from wholesale food suppliers. They allow communities everywhere to access the same selection of healthy products as a natural food chain while 20 to 50 perent on their orders.
We talked to Wholshare founder Matt Hatoun, who shared with us the inspiration for the company, his goals for the wholesale healthy food company and where they are headed in future months.
How did you get the idea for Wholeshare?
Hatoun: “My two co-founders, Peter and Miriam, and I were inspired to start Wholeshare after being involved with a buying club in Providence, RI. Buying clubs are an easy way for communities to pool their purchasing power, allowing them to bypass grocery stores and buy directly from wholesale food distributors. We were all amazed at how great the buying club model worked – it enabled our community to take an active role in our food supply chain and get access to healthy, sustainable food at wholesale prices.
We're really passionate about the food space and wanted to do something to facilitate local and regional distribution. We started Wholeshare as a way to bring that same buying club model to other communities that also want to improve their food access without paying the markups of large natural food chains.”
What do you hope to accomplish with Wholeshare?
Hatoun: “Wholeshare’s goal is to help communities everywhere get access to the same organic and sustainable food that you would find at a large natural food chain. Most natural food chains are extremely restricted in terms of where they can operate. Whole Foods, for example, only covers 15 percent of the US population. That leaves huge areas of the country without access to healthy and natural food.
We're enabling consumers to tap directly into the existing wholesale delivery infrastructure. That means the community can decide what food gets delivered to them. And because we're actually shortening the supply chain, we're able to bring healthy food to those communities at wholesale prices.”
What are the next steps for Wholeshare?
Hatoun: “A few months ago, we launched a partnership with the largest natural food distributor in the country. That partnership has allowed us to offer 20,000 healthy and organic products at 20 to 30 percent less than Amazon. Right now we're focused on getting the word out about that new catalog and on finding new communities that are interested in improving their healthy food access. In 6 months, we'll raise our series A to build on our national growth.
What is your favorite “success story” so far in regards to Wholeshare?
Hatoun: “I’m inspired by many of the communities and small natural food stores that use Wholeshare throughout the country. They’re an extremely important part of our food system as they give consumers a way to take more control over their food supply chain. One in particular is Beacon Food, a volunteer-run group coordinated by local food activists, parents, and chefs in Beacon, NY. The group has grown to nearly 700 members and they operate their bustling group out of a local bakery. It’s great to see a group of excited, young people working together to improve natural food access for the whole community.”
Photo: Flickr / Vinoth Chandar