93% of consumers want grocers to take the lead in supporting the local food economy and 85% of shoppers are likely to switch grocers to find more local, healthy food- Forager
Forager, a B2B procurement platform that connects local farmers with grocers to provide fresh, locally sourced food options to consumers, has raised $4 million in funding. The funding was led by private investors. One of which is Coastal Enterprises Inc. (CEI), a social impact fund focused on environmentally sustainable enterprises, “The changing climate disproportionately impacts people with low incomes. We focus financing and technical assistance to expand renewable energy, energy efficiency and green businesses that reduce carbon emissions and create jobs in rural regions and small gateway cities undergoing economic transitions.”
Another is Duncan Saville, founder and Chairman of the ICM Group. “I invested in Forager for two reasons, first this is a $40 billion fast growing market that is largely analogue and in desperate need for technology so it can scale and be data driven,” said Saville. “Second, the majority of people I know are interested in buying more sustainably sourced products, especially at the local level. This is an important market trend that cannot be ignored and is critical to the future health of our planet.”
Through digitisation and streamlining of processes, Forager’s online and mobile platform removes the friction in local food procurement, delivering efficiencies through the procurement-to-payment process, saving grocers, farmers, co-ops, and producers on time and costs. Forager also offers a proprietary vendor sourcing system that helps buyers mitigate risk by finding and vetting new suppliers.
As grocers look to digitise and consumer demands for healthy, high-quality and nutritious food continue to escalate, Forager aims to ease the way, bridging the two by leveraging automation for simplification of processes and reducing the costs of sourcing.
“In all my years as a serial tech entrepreneur, I have never seen a market sector with so much passion and commitment as local food among consumers and especially Gen Z,” said David Douglas Stone, founder and executive chairman of Portland, Maine-based Forager. “Without technology, the industry cannot scale and expand, end of story. Forager offers a vital solution to building a scalable, local food supply chain that can deliver the freshest-quality items to consumers. Local has also has proven itself as a key strategy for grocers and institutions differentiating with consumers who demand fresh, local food, especially in a post-pandemic world as Americans continue to focus on food as medicine and healthy eating habits.”
Investors believe local food will help grocers gain customer loyalty and boost foot traffic. The funding provided by Forager will be used to further develop key product features, perform necessary upgrades to further meet the needs of both farmers and grocers, and continue to grow out sales channels.
Sourcing locally not only avoids the potential supply chain risks that grow with distance but is good for our planet, and when it comes to fresh produce, good for our bodies while giving opportunity to diverse and smaller businesses.
Now operating in more than 12 states with 40-plus grocers and institutions and 500 local suppliers, Forager has seen tremendous growth and now has had almost 200,000 local products sourced through its platform to date