Logistics for Food Enterprises
Event One Insights –
We heard from two food hubs that have very different operations that have evolved based on their local contexts. Here are insights from each community food enterprise:
EdiGrocer – Edithvale, Victoria
Started in 2017 with an aim of 15 local families subscribing to a box scheme.
Now offering: Standardised fruit & veg boxes: Small $30, Medium $45, Large $60. Aim for minimum 5 veg, 2 fruit. Add-ons possible through their website. Store open twice a week to move any excess produce from boxes.
Produce supply: rely on a core group of 10-15 farmers within 50km radius twice a week (source from ~90 different producers throughout the year).
Distribution: two vans that deliver 95% of the boxes all within 4km radius of the shop
Customers: approximately 200 families per week (250 peak at Covid height)
People Power: approximately 110 paid hours each week with 6 staff (no volunteers)
- Square site for shop, POS and invoicing
Airtable (free version) for back-end database
- Google Sheets for ordering
Routific optimising delivery run – import/export out of Airtable
- SMS: use an Android phone feature to log on computer to send texts to producers (game-changer for communications!)
- Xero for payroll
- Facebook group for members to connect, share recipes, ask produce questions (e.g. how to use uncommon, seasonal veg) , create community
Baw Baw Food Hub – Warragul, Victoria
Started in 2014 as a small veg box scheme, exchanging boxes with customers at a local carpark
Now offering: a store open 5 days/week (Tuesday to Saturday) offering fruit, veg, dairy, meat and more. Plus standardised veg box subscription available: Small $25, Medium $35, Large $50 with $3 discount for hub subscribers. Add-ons possible to subscription.
Customers: were doing up to 200 boxes but most people were coming to hub to collect decided to focus more on the hub as a green-grocer.
Produce supply: do a weekly wholesale market run and stock 60-70 different producers from across Australia. Preference pyramid is for local and organic > local > organic.
Distribution: small amount of orders delivered each week, primarily pick up in store
People Power: 8 paid staff and approximately 25 volunteers each week.
- Open Food Network for online shopfront
- Google Sheets are used for customer databases, price databases
DEXT (Receiptbank) to digitise customer invoices
- Xero used for bank reconciliation, payroll super
ODOO – open source software that has been custom-built by Baw Baw Food Hub based on their needs to integrate Xero, Googlesheets and Open Food Network shopfront
Key Discussion Points:
- Always look for ways to improve or refine your system based on your context and needs.
- Mental and physical health and wellbeing is a priority: efficient systems = less stress!
- Packing methods vary from trolley systems to kanban systems
- Cross referencing varies from print out lists to online lists on tablet devices
- Webinar participants all noted that their enterprises had at least two people checking what was being packed.
- Use of visual box cues: colour coding, size of boxes
- How staff/volunteers are trained and empowered to carry out their role is critical.
- Types of offerings varied amongst participants: ‘Free Choice’ (custom) boxes, ‘Standard’ (set) boxes, Add-ons and in-store options.
- Challenges/tensions: supporting small scale growers that have inconsistent supply or small volumes (suggestion made: make it shop-stock not box-stock) and how to increase the offering (add-ons, customisation) to encourage new customers and retain existing while keeping sane and efficient.
Software for optimising delivery routes:
- Google Maps (free for 10 stops or less and one driver at a time)
- Routific (used by EdiGrocer)
- Yojee (being used for the Open Road pilot project)
Open Food Network Australia ‘Learn’ resources:
- Baw Baw Food Hub – Background Case Study
- Edi Grocer – Background Case Study
- Food Solution- A Community Food Enterprise Startup Guide
- Lean Start-Up
- “Lean Toyota Production system” (EdiGrocer follows this methodology of doing more with less)
- The Lean Farm by Ben Hartman (recommended by Open Food Network Australia and EdiGrocer)
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