By Geoffrey Sagrans
President – Localecopia, Inc. / Localecopia Marketplace, L3C
Besides being deeply involved in the non-profit work of Localecopia and the produce distribution of Localecopia Marketplace, I am a 31 year veteran of the hospitality industry. From the time I first entered the industry until 2019, there have been a number of changes. Phone calls have been replaced by emails. The Rolodex (yes, I just dated myself) has been replaced with Google Contacts. Food critics have been replaced by Food Bloggers. Now everyone is a “foodie” or food expert.
The idea of Localecopia Marketplace is almost a “throwback” to times gone by.
The chef of today can send an order to one of their local suppliers. Within a few hours the order is at their back dock. The suppliers of today try to warehouse as much inventory as they can to win the business over their competition. Items of today (especially produce) are offered in smaller more convenient forms. We have spent years becoming more disconnected from our food sources in the name of efficiency and convenience. Localecopia Marketplace does things a little differently.
When the non-profit parent company, Localecopia, Inc., created Localecopia Marketplace, the idea was to bring back what was lost in the evolution of the modern supply chain: connecting local producers and consumers once more.
Localecopia Marketplace has no warehouse. Deliveries from our trucks require a coordination effort much like that of a composer guiding a symphonic orchestra. Between our farms, drivers, trucks, delivery routes, and the consumers, there are a number of moving parts. Our orders require a 24-hour notice because our trucks go to the various farms around the state.The pick-ups require time, as well as the time needed to drive the products to the consumer. This requires a little more planning on the part of the end user.The hospitality industry of today has almost become spoiled in the sense that what they need is available with relative ease and available with an incredibly short lead time compared to years past.
As a supplier of Florida only products it is a challenge to compete with modern distributors. It is also a challenge for operators to work with us. We only offer Florida products during the growing season so we are not operating year round. The Marketplace only offers products grown/produced with the state lines (which is still over 175 items during the peak of the season). By the way we operate, we cannot provide products within hours of an order being placed. These are real challenges. However, beyond those challenges, we provide some real opportunities.
Working with Localecopia Marketplace shows the foodservice customer that your operation is serious about sourcing local foods. The savvy consumer of today appreciates operations that have a direct connection to the source of the food they eat. The Marketplace provides hospitality operators with that transparency that has seemed to have disappeared with the passing of time. If there are questions or concerns, the hospitality operation can discuss these directly with the actual farmer (not with a distributor who speaks to a local broker, who then speaks to a farming broker in California or Mexico, who MAY then communicate with the farmer).
Having a direct connection to the farms allows us to offer products the way they were intended to be (spoiler alert: Vine Ripened Tomatoes are not ripened on the vine when coming through traditional sources). Some products are harvested and delivered in the same day. Unlike fine wines, ripe produce does not get better with age.
By working with Localecopia Marketplace, you can truly advertise a locally-sourced menu and have the confidence to print that local sourcing right on the menu.
Our trucks are not back on the road until the Fall. However, it’s never too early to start the conversation for next season. Drop us a line today: firstname.lastname@example.org
We are always looking to connect with new chefs to provide the same transparency in the supply chain as our current partners have realized for years.