PORTLAND, Maine, March 20, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- SPRING EQUINOX -- Spring is nigh, and with it, preparations have begun in farms across the country for the first growing season of 2019. Increasingly, part of that prep is signing up with Forager, whose digital procurement web application connects more than 250 local farmers with grocers and co-ops to bring consumers locally grown food.
Forager, launched 2 years ago on this date, has grown dramatically. To date, 60,000 local products across 7 states by more than 20 grocers have been sourced through Forager. For independent farmers, Forager is very good business; in 2018, suppliers who adopted the platform saw, on average, an 11 percent increase in sales over those who did not use Forager.
Forager's growth coincides with the upward trend in independent, or small, farms (88 percent of American farms are classified as "small" by the USDA).The use of the Forager platform enables these farms to expand their reach beyond traditional venues such as farmer's markets and roadside stands to include independent and conventional grocery stores.1 In line with another national trend, nearly 50 percent of the farms using the Forager platform are operated by a new generation of farmers, many of them women. One recent survey among farms operated by farmers under 40 found that 60 percent of those farms are woman owned, which is more than double the percentage of women among the general farming population.2
"Our use of Forager has streamlined our sales, reduced our office work and helped us make more connections with wholesale buyers," noted Gina Hancock, co-owner, Hancock Family Farm. "Our orders have definitely gone up since we started using Forager because we're able to clearly put out what we have available and buyers are able to go in and make that purchase right on their phone. It's really quick - I can use it out in the field - and I can easily make changes to the list in real time if we run out of something.
Recent data from one of Forager's largest retail customers clearly shows the benefits to grocers of implementing its platform in sourcing local food from independent farms. Local sales grew 19 percent in the first year of using Forager. Both grocers and farmers benefit from the average time savings shown by the data: 10-15 hours less time spent buying local food during peak season on the platform versus without the platform.
"The local food economy is the fastest growing segment of the food sector nationwide, driven by the desire of millennials and other key market segments to eat fresh, local, healthy food in addition to meeting their concerns around sustainability," said David Stone, founder, Forager. "To meet this need, independent farms are experiencing a resurgence. The market for local food has grown 4 times faster than industrial agriculture in the past decade, reaching 14 billion dollars in 2016. I predict local food will make up 10-15% of the market within five years, which would result in a market in excess of $100B. At Forager, we're excited to be working alongside farmers and grocers to support this growth."
For more information about the Forager digital procurement platform and how to help grow the local food economy, please visit goforager.com.
About Forager™ (Forager1, LLC)
The mission of Forager is to accelerate the growth of the local food economy and make locally sourced food more widely available to all. The company's online and mobile platform digitizes and streamlines the procurement-to-payment process, saving time and costs for grocers, co-ops, farmers, producers, and other buyers and sellers of local food. For more information about Forager, please see goforager.com.