Here we explore the digital disruption happening in the food chain. We have mentioned apps tackling food waste in our first post and yesterday’s post is about the last mile delivery. Today we explore what happens when these trends start to converge and we move even closer to nature.
Food Distribution Networks
We have a food chain that is broken. Only about 1% of the UK food is sourced locally but more than 70% of people want to buy more locally.
Eating local means there is less packaging and less CO2 impact due to shorter transport journeys. Farmers can also priorities for healthier produce that is organic and seasonal. Small local farmers will also be more inclined to protect the soil ecology of the farm and avoiding chemical runoffs that pollute water and lakes that lead to ocean ‘dead zones’. Industrial farming is also one of the biggest cause of air pollution. With resurging interest in local communities and greater awareness of food waste here is what’s happening.
We look at the food networks created by Farmdrop, Open Food Network and The Food Assembly.
Supermarkets take away up to 75% of the price of food, leaving a small share for producers. Online grocery sales is growing at 20% a year and nearly 80% of consumers in the UK have used a click and collect in the past year. Farmdrop is an online supermarket that delivers locally produced food which is much fresher than the average supermarket time. Switching the order in which the food chain works is having a huge impact in reducing food waste. Farmers will only harvest the vegetable after knowing that buyers are interested and paid for the food. This means that we have a way to move away from the old models resulting in huge amount of food waste and still benefit local farmers where consumers are happy. Even traditional local farmers market may produce food waste. The health, environmental and economic gains are significant. What is super amazing is that Farmdrop is taking it another step further when they turn their distribution network to work with Nissan EV vans powered by Ecotricity renewable energy. They have an app that allows you to make your purchase and transact directly.
Open Food Network, founded in Australia is an online platform that is the result of food hubs coming together to build an non-profit, open, independant open sourced map and directory of local food producers and their platform is now used in other parts of the world including across the UK. They do not do the delivery leaving the pickup or delivery of food to the way the local producer is set up. They launched their UK online shop in May this year and you can start buying from local producers via their website.
The Food Assembly aka La Ruche qui dit Oui! in French is now well and truly established in many parts of Europe. You can buy online or via the app and collections are made in local hubs. Each assembly is run by a host who organises the hub and coordinates with local producers. Each of the local producers will have an online shop that they list their stocks and deal directly with customers and the host and the platform take a cut of 16.7% of the cost.
Wonky Fruits and Vege Boxes
As we have all see in Hugh’s War on Waste how much grown food is wasted because it is not being accepted by big supermarkets due to not meeting aesthetic standards. More can be done and solutions are here. You can now buy directly wonky fruits and vege from Wonky Veg Boxes or Tasty Misfits if you are within their delivery area.
Growing and Foraging
You can even take a step closer to nature and growing or forage your own food.
Aker is building open source gardening kits to help communities build plant beds, composters and beehives.
There are foraging maps such as Falling Fruit and Fruit City to help urban communities re-engage with nature helping people identify the abundance that is at our door steps as many of the fruit trees that bear goes to waste unpicked.
Attempting to combine some of these trends and new business models, we see Fleet Farming in Florida US, transforming urban land into collective farm plots with a bike powered delivery network and gleening fruit trees that have been crowd sourced to their network.
Thats it for now. What do you think of these new innovation?
If you have missed the previous post in this series, head back to read here:
Day 1 of XMas — Food Waste Apps
Day 2 of XMas — Air Quality Apps
Day 3 of XMas — Transport Services
Day 4 of XMas — Electric Vehicles
Day 5 of XMas—Crowd Delivery
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This series is written in collaboration with the 6heads community. 6heads is dedicated to shared learning at the join of sustainability and innovation.