Barrie-based FreshSpoke, a four-year-old tech startup whose core business is connecting food producers and processors with Ontario restaurants and grocery retailers, is adding a home delivery component to its business.
The new web and app-based service, FreshSpoke for Home, promises both home delivery and curbside pick-up to residents of Simcoe County, the District of Muskoka and York Region from local food producers and processors. It will launch with curbside service on Oct. 29, with home delivery rolling out for Simcoe County and York Region on Nov. 5, followed by select towns in the District of Muskoka on Nov. 12.
In development for several months, the service arrives amid both growing consumer interest in online shopping services and supplier demand for new business opportunities as traditional sales channels such as restaurants are disrupted.
“People are looking for products that are local and support local businesses, especially when a lot of businesses [have seen their] capabilities reduced, and accessing those foods in a safe and convenient way is really important,” said FreshSpoke’s marketing coordinator Sarah Tyler.
FreshSpoke for Home currently has lined up more than 65 food suppliers across Ontario, including Toronto-based Italian frozen entrée company Nostra Gourmet Foods, St. Thomas-based tomato company Weesjes Greenhouses, Hagersville-based Hewitt’s Dairy and Belleville’s Pasta Tavola.
Its product assortment spans a wide variety of categories including produce, proteins, beverages, dairy and eggs, bakery, quick meals, wellness and grocery, plus specialty categories such as baby, home and garden, and pets.
It will serve customers out of a 7,500-square-foot distribution facility in Barrie, with delivery fees scaled to basket size (there is no fee for orders over $200). There will be slight markups on food items, said Tyler, though its prices are in line with other services.
The company’s key target is consumers who support local producers and want to know where their food comes from, said Tyler.
Reflecting the company’s commitment to sustainability, FreshSpoke will supply customers with a reusable tote (which carries a $10 deposit fee), and pledges to tap into existing delivery capacity in an effort to prevent adding more trucks to the road. As with its wholesale business, it plans to use excess capacity in local independent delivery trucks to fulfill customer orders.
FreshSpoke is promoting the service via paid search and social, and has also published 2,000 copies of a custom magazine called Graaz that is being placed in real estate offices within its delivery area. The title is also being carried by some supplier partners, and inserted into customer totes. The magazine’s 20-page launch issue has recipes featuring its supplier partners, as well as content focusing on living locally beyond eating.