“THERE’S A LOT OF DEMAND for farm-fresh and local products and food, but not a great way for a wholesale buyer to order from these farms,” says David Ross, vice chairman and co-founder of Farmersweb. “The same is true on the flip side—if you’re a farm, there’s not a very easy way to reach all the buyers.”
This supply-and-demand dilemma inspired Ross, along with co-founders Jennifer Goggin and Aaron Grosbard, to create an online marketplace and order-management tool designed to connect local farms to wholesale buyers.
The site is expected to launch this fall featuring products from a dozen farms within a 200-mile radius of New York City, including farms in the Hudson Valley and north into Washington County, Long Island, New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania and Vermont.
Ross says that when he and his partners pitch the concept to local farmers, it’s an immediate hit. “By and large, they are very positive about it. Wholesale is something that can be very good for them. This has been a missing piece.” Once connected to FarmersWeb, local farms can build a brand identity by creating their own online store and then maintain and update their available inventory. Farms set up their own delivery dates, pick-up locations and order minimums, as well as process orders and monitor sales and customers. There is no charge for farms to subscribe to the service; there is a transaction fee.
On the other end of the transaction, FarmersWeb will bring access to local produce, meats, poultry and dairy to restaurants, schools, country clubs, corporate kitchens and retail stores based in the New York metro area. Once they sign up, buyers can browse by farm or by item and make arrangements for delivery or pick-up directly with the farm over the site.
It’s all about enabling the connection between farm and buyer. “There seemed to be two groups that needed to connect and weren’t,” Ross says, “and that’s what any good ‘B2B’ website does better than almost anything else.”