To help in its search for new locally sourced foods – fresh produce and shelf-stable items alike – e-grocer Farmstead has introduced a Local First program to recruit area food purveyors.
Having added a raft of national brands such as Chicago-based Kraft Heinz to its inventory, Farmstead is now seeking more local vendors to maintain a balance of national and local items for its customers.
“National grocery chains are centralizing more, sourcing through only very large brands and distributors, and that’s cutting off distribution and access for local companies,” noted Pradeep Elankumaran, co-founder and CEO of San Francisco-based Farmstead. “Initially, Farmstead was completely known for locally sourced food, and that drew a lot of customers to us. It’s important to us to support local farming and food production, and our customers share that value. Even as we expand geographically, Farmstead will always feature the best local brands in each customer’s area."
Farms and producers can apply to have their products carried by Farmstead. Within the e-grocer’s app, customers can also recommend local brands for Farmstead to evaluate.
The company provides local brands with distribution and a steady stream of customers, many of whom are on refill programs and purchase the same things every week. Farmstead leverages technology to streamline many aspects of grocery shopping, among them list creation, product refills, sourcing, procurement and signing on new vendors.
“Farmstead essentially broke the traditional grocery store model and rebuilt it using technology,” said Elankumaran.
Initially focusing on locally sourced produce, Farmstead worked to make fresh food available to all at reasonable prices and delivered free, working with partners such as Burlingame, Calif.-based autonomous-van company Udelv to keep transportation costs low.