- New York-based Fairway Markets is now using a new digital procurement system from tech company Forager to source locally grown food, according to a press release from Forager.
- The Forager system digitizes the "procurement-to-payment" process and claims to make it easier for Fairway to work with a variety of suppliers, including smaller farms. Fairway is currently using the Forager platform in its produce warehouse on a trial basis and may expand it to other products like cheese, non-perishables and wellness.
- According to a survey data from Forager, 93% of consumers would buy more local food if it was available at their primary grocer and 84% would make an extra trip for local, seasonal food.
Eating local has been one of the biggest trends in food and grocery, often associated with sustainability and better quality. In a survey last year, Maine-based Forager found that shoppers in New England and upstate New York want to buy more local produce but that retailers aren’t meeting that demand. That demand has driven the growth of Forager's platform, which the company said has helped source nearly 70,000 local products in eight states with 25 grocers and 250 suppliers.
Fairway, which operates 15 stores in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey, wants to provide more locally sourced products for its customers. The company has a long history in New York and a loyal customer base. Its stores offer a wide selection of small-batch and gourmet items, and in recent years the company has faced stronger competition from stores such as Whole Foods and Trader Joe's that also appeal to shoppers with an affinity for fresh and local items.
Sourcing local food – and keeping up with customer demand – can be challenging for some retailers, even large national chains. Supply, distribution and financial resources all pose challenges for both grocers and food suppliers. Digitizing the process, in turn, could save money, reduce errors and provide a more efficient way for stores to work with producers.
Some grocers have implemented programs to better source and showcase local inventory from their region or state. Earlier this month, Giant Food Stores introduced shelf tags to highlight products made in Pennsylvania. Kroger showcases its relationship with farmers with an online content series, "We Are Local." Whole Foods, ShopRite and Raley’s are just a few examples of other retailers that spotlight regional agriculture.
Fairway is making improvements in other parts of its business as well. Last year the grocer successfully tested self-checkout technology that allows customers to skip lines and pay through a mobile scanning app. The chain also added a cooking school in Manhattan recently and has added more foodservice items in stores, including hot noodle bars and poke stations. Fairway also offers same-day grocery delivery through Instacart and Shipt.