Barrie based start-up FreshSpoke is shaking up the food industry with a new platform for the growing market of wholesale buyers turning away from imported and processed foods in favour of those produced closer to home.
FreshSpoke is tackling the distribution challenges that, until now have kept most farmers and micro-producers out of the wholesale market. “Consumers are demanding more local and sustainable sourcing on the part of institutions, retailers and food service”, states Marcia Woods, CEO and passionate force behind FreshSpoke, “but the existing food system doesn’t make it easy or economical to buy or sell on a commercial scale.”
FreshSpoke is determined to change this with an ‘eBay-meets-Uber’ approach to local food that simplifies order, payment and delivery for wholesale buyer and seller. “We’re building a crowdsourced delivery system on a commercial scale and giving producers that deliver the ability to make extra cash delivering for producers who don’t”, explains Ms. Woods. By next spring, FreshSpoke expects to have third party delivery agents on board to keep pace with demand as it expands across Canada.
FreshSpoke is the latest in a growing list of marketplace platforms referred to as the sharing economy in which members get their needs met from each other instead of large corporations. Made famous by big players like Uber and Airbnb, the sharing economy has experienced rapid growth over the past 5 years and shows no sign of slowing down.
“The key for specialty food producers like myself, is finding chefs and retailers that value local quality produce above anything else,” states Mildand area garlic producer Bart Nagel. “Yet, the daily workload of a small farm had me put aside going after it for a few years. I feel FreshSpoke is unlocking new potential for Bulbs of Fire, beyond the market we already service.”
FreshSpoke’s sellers range from breweries and wineries to farmers and artisanal food makers like Not Yer Granny’s Granola. “We’re
expanding our wholesale business so it’s important to get in front of as many buyers as possible”, states Fran Kruse, owner of Not Yer Granny’s Granola of Barrie. “The idea of a single platform that handles the marketing and distribution for buyer and seller makes a lot of sense and that’s why we got on board.”
FreshSpoke is now working with local food producers in Simcoe and Grey Counties as well as King Township. The organization is holding free information sessions in a number of locations throughout Simcoe County in the coming weeks.