Food Value, the online marketplace that really makes local food chains take off!
- if more and more farmers can no longer make a decent living,
- if the landscape loses all its biodiversity,
- if soil fertility is heading towards zero,
- if sustainability becomes a necessity,
- if population – and recreational pressure becomes ever greater,
- and if also public health issues are growing,
….how long can we maintain the habit -in densely populated areas of the world- to produce for a global market?
If farmers can produce for the city in the neighborhood, everything will become healthier. The soil, the food, the revenue models, the fun, the landscape and everyone’s health. But, how do you organize such a local food chain?
The online marketplace is a necessity
Every city or region has different circumstances, different players and activities, but marketplace software plays a major role everywhere. One of the biggest obstacles to be solved is the administration and hassle that arises as soon as farmers start selling small crops to many different customers. The second issue is that the local market needs to have enough scale, when seen from a customer perspective. Food Value is designed to tackle these two challenges.
Many of these marketplaces have grown organically and were developed by small parties. Not only does maintenance and security suffer from this fact, one of the crucial elements for a successful local chain becomes a weakness.
Highlighted features of Food Value
- Each group can have its own look and feel
- Farmers have their own online stores and a powerful dashboard
- Buyers can easily order, re-order and consult with their suppliers
- Groups can be member only or open access
- Logistics can be completely customized for each food group
- Participants can be members of multiple groups
- All payments, margins and administration are highly automated
Food Value also makes it possible for people to communicate easily with each other and to reach agreements. Think of farmers agreeing to growing the same kind of pumpkin together, or to do the opposite: create different cheeses so that both dairy farmers in the group have their own products. Another use of subgroeps can be that a restaurants creates new menus by working together with its farm suppliers.
Demo Food Value
Demo of the marketplace Food Value
(English subtitles available)
Who is behind Food Value?
Food Value was developed by The Plant, an online communication network that develops green projects and products. The purpose of The Plant is to get this planet greener as soon as possible, because if we do not move quickly, there will simply not be a planet left for us.
We have developed Food Value together with Puurland, The van Akker tot Bos foundation, Gemeente Arnhem and Hogeschool van Hall Larenstein, with the aid of a POP3 innovation subsidy from the province of Gelderland and the EU. Now that this project has been completed, we bring Food Value to the world as a very affordable tool for everyone who runs a local food group and as a social enterprise.
The goal of Food Value is to serve as many fantastic local food groups as possible as quickly as possible with software developed and financed as efficiently as possible. Because, why should every food group develop their own software?
Together we stand stronger
Food Value wants to grow in a member based and transparent fashion. This transparency also means: allowing as many groups as possible to benefit as much as possible from each other’s experiences. Groups share metadata, but also other practical and organizational learnings . Because this creates acceleration of the process. It is also our ambition to not only be active in the Netherlands, but also at the European level and even worldwide.
We therefore promise that all groups participating in Food Value participate in the growth of knowledge and the metadata analysis while at the same time we can maintain the professionalism to really guard against the protection of the privacy-sensitive data that is built up in the package. In this way we are jointly developing a knowledge center that enables all members to see how much cheese is sold in this location and how many potatoes in another, or how the ratio between consumers and professional buyers in your city compares to another city. This will encourage everyone to switch more and more to local food culture and markets and to learn from each other.
What do you pay for using Food Value?
Food Value comes as a service: we manage the software and help your group to get started. We set up the tool and help with the design. Each group has participants and transactions. We believe that the right balance between these cost items is important. A group with consumers will use a different participant price than a group with shops and catering as customers. But in all cases we think that both cost items must be reasonable. Free participation leads to many inactive customers; if transaction costs are too high, this will lead to resistance among loyal customers.
Together with you and your wishes we will reach a tailor-made solution, that will be reviewed annually. The guideline values that we now apply are: 20 euros per month excl. VAT per professional participant and 3% per transaction. If you want to work with consumer participants, the monthly fixed fee could be lower.
So we do not ask a license fee. All one-off furnishing and guidance costs are charged separately at an hourly rate of € 85 excluding VAT. Consider around 10 hours of technical support per food group and 10 hours of organisational support and startup.
What do you have to do to successfully use Food Value?
We have brainstormed thoroughly in the development process and tested our tool with real farmers, shops and logistics partners and certainly learned a few things, but we also talk a lot with existing food groups and from this, three main points have arisen:
A successful Food Value group will have arranged the following three things well:
- Sufficient consistency and sufficient mass in the group. The professional parties must know each other sufficiently and trust and want to work together. There must be a sufficient and diverse range of vendors in the group to ensure continuity in the offering part of the marketplace. And there must be enough buyers in the system to be economically interesting for the vendors and the whole marketplace. Of course you can gradually build up this consistency and mass, but do set a goal.
- This consistency and mass must be monitored by a community manager, moderator, webmaster, coordinator, five-legged sheep, whatever you want to call him or her. This coordinator easily has a day in the week work on this and is preferably not a competing vendor in the system. The combination with logistics is a much better and more logical one. This coordinator can also become a good sparring partner to other stakeholders of the group. The city council for instance. Sometimes these also want to help keep him or her alive in the start-up phase of the group.
- Each group has a pre-agreed logistics system. From our experience, tests and brainstorming two systems have emerged: the farmer owning a refrigerated van that drives rounds to pick up and deliver. This system works great if there is just one or a few big clients in the group. Think about a big canteen or just a few restaurants. The other model is to work with a central hub in each city. Farmers bring their harvest to this hub at least once a week. The hub owner preferably uses an electric vehicle and drives laps around the city. The shipping costs in the system are for this logistics partner. Of course, city residents can also pick up their orders at the hub themselves.