Blue Apron

Many market organizers and vendors have seen the market box concept in action in their region, where a non-profit or an entrepreneur picks up goods from participating producers and sells them as a package or allows for individual selections, packed and delivered. In my area, Good Eggs has the corner on the regional ingredient delivery system right now. Their delivery van is seen at most markets first thing picking up orders from individual market vendors.

Another version of the delivery service of “fresh” but not necessarily local is Blue Apron which delivers the precise ingredients for meals to your door, and adds seasonal recipes and detailed instructions. Hello Fresh is another well-known company using the same model, but Blue Apron is seen as the industry leader and just raised 135 million dollars so is now “valued” at 2 billion dollars.

So do these services help local food?
The truth is that many eaters will never become regular market shoppers but many can be introduced to the joys of seasonal whole foods through these services and so market organizers should at least be aware of them and do their best to work along if it does not impair the direct sales of the market’s vendors. However, we need to be vigilant about communicating the benefits of markets even more in these crowded times.

Blue Apron charges approximately $10 per meal, and makes over 3 million meals every month. Blue Apron now operates two distribution centers with over 1,800 employees, and thousands of customers.
Other facts from their site:
Recipes never repeated in the same year
Meals are 500-700 calories per serving and take 35 minutes to prepare
Ingredients are perfectly pre-measured so there’s no waste
Cook with seasonal ingredients that are fresher than the supermarket
Discover specialty products that are hard to find on your own
Convenient Delivery
Free delivery nationwide
Choose a delivery day that best fits your schedule
Ingredients arrive in a refrigerated box so food stays fresh even if you’re not home

What it’s like to use Blue Apron – Business Insider.

Forget ‘Whole Paycheck’?

The linked article below tells of Whole Foods’ campaign to let America know of their “cheaper” prices and is interesting news on a few fronts.
One, that the world’s leading natural and organic food store is sharing price comparisons and acknowledging the need to identify costs to their shoppers. Co-CEO Mackay says, “For a long time Whole Foods had the field to ourselves, pretty much. That was nice, but we don’t any longer,” he said on an earnings call with investors. “So we’re adapting to the reality of the marketplace.”

Secondly this: the chain is lowering its prices, particularly on produce.
This may be an indicator of the strength of the farmers market movement that has led WF to become more competitive on fresh produce. That may seem a far jump for some of my readers, but since it was not an issue when they competed only with other grocery stores, I am inclined to partly credit the energy of the increased number of farmers market outlets for fresh produce for one of the reasons for this.
Or, it may be that the chain feels that they can reduce their costs by reducing their waste in produce (reducing spoilage is an area that stores should always be working on to increase profits) or (sigh) maybe the chain feels it can ask for lower prices from farmers/producers more easily than companies from whom they buy value-added products.

I’d love to hear others thoughts on this news and how they think it affects farmers markets and other direct marketing outlets.

Forget ‘Whole Paycheck’—This Grocery Chain Now Beats Many Competitors’ Prices | TakePart” target=”_blank”>Whole Foods Story

Experience helps restaurant managers stick with local foods

In a study of the cost and benefits of purchasing local foods in restaurants, managers and chefs indicated that certain actions of local food producers stand out as reasons why they continue to buy local foods. For instance, managers said that a local farmer’s or producer’s response time — the time it took a business to respond and process an order — was more important than delivery time — how long it takes to actually receive the goods — as a factor when they considered buying local food products.
Managers did not seem to think food safety was an issue with handling local food.
Clear labeling is another selling point for restaurant managers who are purchasing foods in grocery stores and markets. The labels should be accurate and easy to read, containing specifications including weight, date and product details, for example, according to Sharma, who worked with Joonho Moon, doctoral student in hospitality management, Penn State, and Catherine Strohbehn, state extension specialist and adjunct professor in apparel, events and hospitality management, Iowa State University.

Amit Sharma, Joonho Moon, Catherine Strohbehn. Restaurant’s decision to purchase local foods: Influence of value chain activities. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 2014; 39: 130 DOI: 10.1016/j.ijhm.2014.01.009

First New Orleans recipient of Fresh Food Retail Initiative closes, puts store on market | The Lens

A Central City grocery store that received a low-interest loan under a city-funded program to bring fresh foods to under-served neighborhoods has been closed and placed on the market.

Owner Doug Kariker said the store was too much work. “I can’t do it anymore,” he said. The store was not profitable, he said, “but in our business plan, we didn’t expect it to be” in the first year.

First recipient of Fresh Food Retail Initiative closes, puts store on market | The Lens.

As some of you know, I believe that the era of mission-driven farmers markets has just begun and that how we view our work needs to expand to help the farmers and buyers that we work with. In that mindset, we should begin to examine the idea of public markets entirely devoted to restaurant/grocer (then wholesale) sales of local goods, curated with the same intention and mission by those of us that currently manage retail farmers markets.
In order to do that, we should learn from wholesale terminals such as this one in Canada. I found a couple of things within this article about the Ontario Terminal fascinating. My notes are in italics.

In less than 40 seconds, DiLiso has placed his order: cabbage, cipollini onions, bean sprouts and bok choy. Na enters the data on a hand-held digital device then, with a mutual nod, moves on to another client, leaving DiLiso to gather up his vegetables.
That’s how deals are done at The Ontario Food Terminal, the giant U-shaped building on 16 hectares off the Queensway in west Toronto: friendly, no-nonsense, fast.

(Notice the ability to enter sales on a hand held device?)

———————————–

DiLiso and his small crew criss-cross the market to find sellers they trust who have the best deals on vegetables.
“It’s all about relationships,” DiLiso says.

(I dunno- it sounds like it is as much about price?)

Ontario Terminal story