Online marketplace launches to connect small retailers and producers to customers in isolation
In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, a Somerset-based businessman has set up an online platform to connect food suppliers – from farm shops and delis to growers and foodservice businesses – to their local customers.
Foodens.com is hoping to provide a safe, zero-contact source of food during the crisis.
“We want to keep local food suppliers afloat through COVID-19, whilst also stopping the panic buying and mass gatherings at supermarkets,” said founder, Rob Kerry.
“We’re happy to welcome all food businesses, that are interested in selling direct to consumers. That could be a farm shop, butcher, patisserie, fruit and veg wholesaler, ready meal company, restaurant or anything in between.”
Speaking to FFD on the day of the platform’s launch, Kerry said that they already had 22 businesses signed up for the service.
Foodens is run by the Foodens Foundation, a non-profit created by Kerry and his wife, Anna. Retailers will be charged 10% commission on any orders taken to cover fees and costs but joining and listing products on the platform is free of charge.
“Any profit is reinvested into Foodens or used to support other food initiatives. This is a labour of love, rather than profit,” said Kerry.
While supermarkets are struggling to keep up with the demand for online ordering and delivery, as reported in The i, small retailers and producers have products to sell, and the ability to be flexible.
Kerry said: “We just need to get all of Britain’s small local food suppliers online and in one place, to meet this need and to make it as easy as shopping on Ocado.
“Where the supplier can deliver orders to the door, even if it’s in their personal car, we can create a very effective food delivery network.”
Kerry said that people are creatures of habit, and habits are hard to break. However, he said, it has taken this virus to make people realise how reliant the buying public are on just a few supermarket brands.
“We live in quite a small town, but the queue outside of Tesco last week was still over 100 people long. At the same time, our local butcher and greengrocer were empty of people and full of the food those people wanted.”
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