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Fairway goes digital to get local

Procurement tool helps grocer source from area farmers, vendors

Fairway Market is taking a digital approach to help it source local food.

The New York-based grocer, which focuses on fresh and specialty foods, has adopted the Forager digital procurement system to connect with local growers and vendors. According to Jason Bidart, vice president of private brand and local programs for Fairway Group Holdings Corp., the solution will enable the chain to expand the variety of locally sourced food in its stores.

"Many of our smaller suppliers — independent farms, for example — have traditionally used phone calls, fax or text messages for the ordering process,” Bidart said in a statement. “The Forager platform is far more efficient yet user-friendly, giving farmers the tools to provide Fairway with seamless ordering of their up-to-date products."

Forager’s eponymous platform is designed to streamline the procurement-to-payment process, reducing the cost and complexity of sourcing for grocers, distributors and other trading partners so they can buy and offer more local food. The Portland, Maine-based company said its solution provides faster ordering, one place to communicate with suppliers, simpler and more accurate receiving and payment, and improved insights from transactional data.

As part of its commitment to providing its customers with the highest-quality local food and great customer service, Fairway Market, which operates 15 stores in the New York, New Jersey, Connecticut tri-state area, has begun using the Forager digital procurement system to source local food.

Bidart noted that Forager gives Fairway access to up-to-date farm inventory, in turn enabling the retailer to offer more choices and varieties.

"Right now, we are using the Forager platform in our produce warehouse. Based on how well the trial performs, we will look at expanding Fairway's use of the platform into other areas like cheese, non-perishable groceries and wellness,” he explained. “We are also considering enabling our stores to use Forager to manage orders to local suppliers that deliver directly to our stores.

“We've found that the Forager platform provides efficiencies that allow us to better market, price and promote our local food selection, allowing us to pass along its benefits to our customers,” Bidart added.

A national survey conducted by Forager found that 78% of consumers typically put locally sourced food on their shopping list. In addition, 93% of consumers polled said they would purchase more local food if it was available at their primary grocery store, while 84% indicated they would make an extra shopping trip for local, seasonal food.

Grocery retailers using Forager have seen double-digit increases in local food sales, according to David Stone, founder of Forager.

"We are thrilled that Fairway Market is up and running with Forager and is leveraging our technology to extend their leadership in local food,” Stone said. “Forager is transforming the local food supply chain, making a highly complex and manual process much more efficient so that grocers can source more locally and give consumers what they want most: fresh, local food. Our platform removes significant challenges for grocers to scale and sustain a robust and profitable local food selection."

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