A recent partnership in the food distribution world has shown that collaboration leads to innovation, particularly in distributing local food in Ontario.
In 2017, Flanagan Foodservice, the largest Canadian-owned, independent foodservice distributor in the country, teamed up with Local Line, a tech company that builds e-commerce tools for food businesses, to launch Flanagan Market: an online platform connecting local growers with restaurants and other food service operations to increase local food options readily available to buyers.
Users can browse hundreds of Ontario products and purchase directly from local growers within their community.
The innovative collaboration earned Flanagan Foodservice and Local Line a well-deserved Local Food Champion Award from the Greenbelt Fund.
“Our goal is to dramatically increase access to Ontario local food products for our customers,” says Barry Reid, VP of Sales & Marketing for Flanagan Foodservice. “The Flanagan Market was designed to help bring local farmers to market and possibly increase the scope of what Flanagan can offer its customers. It’s an exciting program that will only help everyone involved in the local food supply chain, with each passing day.”
The digital market now has more than 350 users signed up on the platform, with over 850 products listed — though this number continually changes and updates, depending on factors like seasonality and availability.
A Globe and Mail article on the “Digital Farmers’ Market” shares:
“’Local food is more than just farmers’ markets that are popular among foodies and those who enjoy the experience,’ says Cole Jones, chief executive officer of Local Line. ‘It’s a very powerful way to build food systems and re-engineer local supply chains.’”
It’s one of those resourceful, win-win-win collaborations: Flanagan customers have the opportunity to increase local food orders via Local Line’s inventory of products now available on Flanagan’s procurement platform; Local Line has been able to expand its operations, selling to new clients through Flanagan’s established network; and, in the end, more Ontario food is being served at tables in restaurants, long term care homes, hospitals and universities across the province.
Ultimately, the online farmers’ market is doing what many online networks accomplish: connecting its users — in this case, Ontarians and their local food producers.
Any effort that bridges this important gap is indeed worthy of not only our attention, but also our support and participation. Are you a foodservice buyer? Take a stroll over to the Flanagan Market here.