The UK’s first “click and collect” online farmer’s market has been launched.

FarmDrop, a new online food shopping service, cuts out the supermarket middleman and allows shoppers to order their weekly fresh produce straight from local growers.

Essentially, it uses the power of the crowd to be able to buy local, seasonal produce directly from local food producers – putting more money in the pockets of the producers who deserve it, according to the firm behind its launch.

See also: Are you a local food champion? Enter the 2014 Farmers Weekly Awards Local Food Farmer of the Year

The online service is the brainchild of Ben Pugh, 35, a former equity salesman covering food retailers at Morgan Stanley.

Mr Pugh thought of the idea to launch FarmDrop while he was sitting in a car at Fleet services on the M3.

Ben Pugh

Ben Pugh – the founder of FarmDrop.

 

It suddenly dawned on him that more people were shopping for their food online, yet it was hard for them to get their hands on local, fresh produce.

He said: “If people increasingly want to shop for their food online using click and collect, then why not make it possible for them to click and collect from local food producers who will gain from less waste and better pricing?

“With FarmDrop, you are able to order directly from your local farmer, radically shortening the supply chain and giving you reassurance you know exactly where your food comes from.”

FarmDrop gives consumers the chance to build relationships with their local producers and understand how and where their food was grown.

How the concept works

  • Customers browse, order and pay online.
  • Orders are then sent to producers who hand over their food at a drop-off point two to three days later. Drop off points can be anything from a local pub to community centre or a school.
  • Producers get 80% of the money, 10% to the keeper and FarmDrop keeps the final 10% to cover costs of running platform, including payment processing costs of 2%).

Individuals, groups and organisations can set up a FarmDrop account. “Keepers” create and manage an online food marketplace for their local FarmDrop community.

Keepers then encourage “members” to join their FarmDrop and together place orders with a range of local food producers through the website www.farmdrop.co.uk.

Orders are sent to the producers, with all food delivered to and collected from the one venue, at one time, organised by the keeper.

“The really unique thing about FarmDrop is the freshness the format offers,” added Mr Pugh.

“Click and collect with FarmDrop actually means click to harvest. Growers only pull the carrots out of the soil once someone’s bought them.

“That means no waste for the farmers and unrivalled freshness for the consumer.”

In the last week, 116 producers have signed up to FarmDrop – and more are signing up every day.