5 Most Innovative Use of Direct-to-Consumer Models

screenshot from craft coffee

screenshot from craft coffee

We like this ‘new breed’ as they’re doing something a little different. They’re taking the regular products you might find in a supermarket or can’t be found in stores at all, and they’re changing the model of distribution so that they don’t have the overheads of brick & mortar retail and operating an enterprise that can be run from almost anywhere. Kinda like the local food distributors around the world.

 

Lets take a look at a few which are breaking the mould, which might inspire some ideas about new models for local food.

 

Kiwi Crate

Sick of trawling the aisles of big box warehouses stacked from floor to ceiling with colourful noisy toys? Kiwi Crate (based in the US) offer a subscription service which is a crafted offering unique to their platform. They have parents, educational advisors and 聽kids to test it all out. It comes to you direct in the post, and they charge monthly. And they have a cute logo 馃檪

Kiwi Crate Monthly Subscription Services

 

Blissmobox

Want to try some new and exciting goodies? Prefer they were organic, eco-friendly and non-toxic? US-based Blissmobox has been pioneering the curated box market for awhile now, and winning awards at the same time.

Blissmobox Monthly Subscription Box Service Organic Eco-friendly Non-toxic

 

BarkBox

This service may take the cake for the cutest around. Subscribe for a monthly fee, tell them the size of your Pups and they will send goodies for your woofers each month. Awesome.

BarkBox Monthly Subscription for Dogs

 

Dollar Shave Club

Dollar Shave Club are taking on the big boys with their cut price offering, and man-centric videos. It’s intriguing that after decades of ‘personal care’ companies building up their brands, spending millions on advertising, and developing close relationships with the big name supermarkets – a cheeky upstart like Dollar Shave Club can come along and start taking their market. We’ll let them tell you why they’re so great…

 

Turn Table Kitchen

An award must go to Turn Table Kitchen for the quirky and unexpected, we think. This Canadian subscription model curates a selection of vinyl and food each month, direct to your door.

Turntable Kitchen Monthly Subscription Music + Food

 

Great! So you’ve spoken to an “e-commerce guru” and they’ve set up a shopping cart for you, and now the orders are rolling in! Now what?

 

Oh yeah, you need to keep track of your customers, their details, their orders, their changes, their preferences, and their payments. Then you just need to work out where all those orders are going, which day, which address, what’s in the boxes, whether there’s any changes, and add a sprinkle of customer service love. Then it’s a matter of sending your delivery drivers out or working with a ‘trusty courier’ to get them, in good condition, to all your customers. Then just reconcile all the $40 payments to each of your customers. Breathe. Now whilst you deserve a cuppa, you’ve got all the other things to do to grow your business still.

 

… and right there, that’s why we built Bucky Box.

 

There’s more to service model business than simply a shopping cart – hopefully you understand the admin that it takes to run a business like this. But don’t be down hearted! We took the admin stress away so you can concentrate on building your business and keeping people happy….. and we give you a shopping cart for free.

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Bucky Box talks to Radio New Zealand’s Kim Hill

Listen to Bucky Box speak to Kim Hill on Radio New Zealand

Yesterday we were lucky enough to join the International Press Personality of the Year, Kim Hill, on her Saturday morning show.

 

We thought it would be wise to say congratulations for her recent award, so we took along a Box chocked full of lovely organic produce! We’re cursing ourselves for not taking a photo now – Kim looked very chuffed with the Jerusalem Artichoke & Garlic shoots particularly!

 

It was a fantastic opportunity to see behind the scenes of one of our nation’s most-listened to radio shows, and Mark (the fantastic producer of the show) let us know we’d be talking live to around 200’000 Kiwi’s just before going live. Thanks Mark.

 

Listen to Will & Sam talk about Food Distribution & Bucky Box on Saturday Morning with Kim Hill here:

 

You can see Kim Hill’s Saturday morning online here, and check them out on Twitter at @RNZ_SatMorning

Production, Distribution & Waste – Challenging Industrial Agriculture

 

Recently we’ve heard the same old arguments being pumped out by industrial agriculture, especially in reaction to the droughts in the US.

 

The argument goes: “There’s almost 7 billion people on Earth, and there’s 1 billion hungry. We need more food to feed the world. We must intensify agriculture; bigger & better, and we’ve got the answer – we call it a Sustainable Agriculture”. 聽That ‘Sustainable Agriculture future’ is typically large-scale intensive agriculture, GMO, and more sophisticated ‘scientific’ farming methods. 聽Inevitably the cost of this agriculture is greater, and farmers must have all of the latest information, tools, machinery & chemicals to make it happen. 聽It also, coincidentally, means greater profits for the big boys of industrial agriculture (rather than farmers).

 

There’s an assumption in there that needs testing: “We need more food to feed the world”. 聽It’s so often taken as a given, but there significant research which suggests otherwise.

 

We grow enough food to feed 10 billion people already. Eric Holt-Gim茅nez recently wrote a fantastic rebuttal of the industrial agriculture view on the future of food. The first part of his argument centres around the point that Hunger is not caused by scarcity, but by poverty – that is what needs to be tackled to feed the hungry people in the world, not more food. 聽It follows on to show that Industrial Ag Vs Natural Farming does not represent the gaps in yields that are constantly talked about by GMO advocates. The longest running study (Rodale Institute – 47 year study) shows that Organic farming has better yields & profits, whilst requiring lower energy inputs & causing lower greenhouse gas outputs.

 

We Already Grow Enough Food - Infographic - Challenging Industrial Agriculture

 

The UN have put out several studies on Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture which do not support the Industrial Ag spin. They don’t stand to create vast profits from their view, but they do expect to see greater advances in sustainable development & poverty聽alleviation through more agriculture shifting to small-scale agroecological production. There also are gains in climate resilience and energy reduction from adopting farming based on ecological systems.

 

A 2011 report on Food Waste by the Food & Agriculture Organisation (PDF)聽suggests 1/3 of global food production is wasted through the supply chain or pre/post consumption. This food waste infographic featured on Food+Tech Connect supports this argument, showing it’s as high as 40% in the US.

 

It’s clear to see there’s significant work that needs to be addressed on the Consumer side of things, but this also supports our assertion that a big change needs to happen upstream. 聽If food distribution were to change from the centralised, industrial model that accounts for 99% of our food system, to local food webs, then we have the opportunity to disrupt the food waste in this area of the chain too.

 

The world has changed since our food system was invented – the information & web revolution has made new things possible – aggregation of supply & demand through web-based tools is just one of them. 聽We built Bucky Box for many reasons, one of which indicates the potential for decentralised food systems & local food webs to be more efficient than Industrialised Ag. 聽By re-localising food distribution with these new tools, we can efficiently move food from farm to fork with minimal wastage, instead of farm to landfill.

 

The time has come for a revolution in our food system. 聽It may be聽a quiet revolution which sees individuals consciously choosing to buy local, for small-scale farming to make a wholesale return, and for more-than-profit food distribution to rise, powered by a wave of digital tools for a better food system.

Revista Pequenas Empresas & Grandes Neg贸cios feature Bucky Box – Splashdown in Brazil!

Brazilian Business Magazine features Kiwi Local Food Startup!

We knew something was up when our beta channel started seeing several Brazilian requests for our beta service. 聽A little investigating today showed us that not only were we featured in ‘Springwise : Online Startup Network‘ this week, but our social enterprise software for local food distribution was also featured in聽Revista Pequenas Empresas & Grandes Neg贸cios – the go-to Brazilian magazine for small & medium business, entrepreneurship & more!

 

Easy to use software created by the company help automate billing data transport and logistics, addition of production.聽With this, Bucky Box hopes to boost decentralized food system – small聽farms聽organic food in particular.聽In the company’s website, owners can manage the company, reducing the time spent on administration to a maximum of two hours weekly.

 

So, a big thanks to our new favourite Brazilian magazine – Revista Pequenas Empresas & Grandes Neg贸cios! It’s not every day a Kiwi startup gets featured in a major international publication – but we’re very thankful to have been featured in quite a few at this point.

 

We look forward to working with some Brazilian local food schemes in the future! Roll on the decentralized food system!

Sustainable Food Summit – Vision of a Future Food System

*This blog was republished in part on Food+Tech Connect as ‘How Technology will decentralise the global food system’, Fair Food Network and Sustaination’s “3rd Industrial Revolution”.

 

How do we create a food system which is sustainable in the face of growing population pressures, changing weather patterns, declining natural resources, and a sharp decline in soil health?

A summit to co-create the future of the food system in Australia, and indeed around the world

This is one of the questions we held, when we recently headed to the shores of Australia to attend the National Sustainable Food Summit in Sydney, to hang out with some of the visionaries who are engaged in the dialogue of how the future of Australia’s food system will play out.

 

The summit was re-convened after last year’s successful meeting which brought people from around the country to listen to key note speakers, and engage in workshop sessions to talk about & co-create the future.

 

Several of the attendees were live tweeting the event on the hashtag #FoodSummit & #SFS12, and a Storify was being built as the event progressed: you can check it out here.

 

Asides from the fascinating conversations, great connections & pretty tasty conference food, there was a fair few insights into where the food system would be moving over the course of the next 20 years or so, and it’s our recollection of these insights we want to try and capture for you:

  • The food system, much like other industries around the world, is one of the next major industries that will become decentralised thanks to the web, peer-to-peer trading, and as a response to 30 years of legacy which has served financial interest more than the people & planet it relies upon.
  • A flexible, resilient & sustainable food system is already emerging, and with software & other food tech as a catalyst, is going to emerge even more rapidly. It will form a meshed web reaching around the world, of localised food systems within a bigger global food system.
  • The food system of the future will be complex – made up of traditional agriculture, urban agriculture, small-scale farms, bio-domes, vertical growing spaces, hydroponics, backyard gardening, community gardening, and more.
  • Organic Farming can feed 10 billion people, and small-scale sustainable agriculture is the way it will happen. Several recent reports, including one from the UN Special Rapporteur have identified this, and there is a growing focus on ecological / biological farming methods.
  • We will have to shift from the 99% industrialized food system we currently have globally, as resource pressures (peak oil & the likes) will mean current techniques will continue to push the cost of food up.聽 The transition may not be easy for all concerned, those with vested interests in keeping the status quo are likely to resist, but they will be swept away if they do not change (see changes in Music Industry!).
  • Huge advancements can be made as we shift to a decentralized food system, especially in the area of food & resource waste, which accounts for the main reason for current artificially high prices.聽 In 2010 we produced enough food to feed c.12 billion people, we just wasted a large portion of it.
  • Remove the ‘squeeze’ caused by the Food Distribution ‘profit centre’, and we will ease the financial, environmental & social strain currently put on food production & consumption.
  • Local & Regional food economies will be rejuvenated with a new set of values based on more than profit, beginning with the foundations that People & Planet should be at the centre of the food system, with Money/Profit playing the role of social exchange lubricant rather than sole economic measurement.
  • The emergence of vege box schemes, CSA’s, co-ops, buying groups & food hubs are all proving the future path of the food system right now. Software is a major lever of change to catalyse these forms of enterprise.
  • More farmers will be needed and more small-scale distributors.
  • The future food system will have a much greater transparency & traceability from Farm to Fork, enabled by food tech.

There were of course many many more, but these are some of the strongest trends that we heard at the conference.

 

The early keynote by Jeremy Rifkin was one of the talks which set a lot of the context for the conference, and whilst it’s fairly lengthy – there’s some great insights into economic trends which are worth a watch.

Take a look at more of the notes, podcasts, videos & other Food Summit resources collated by the 3 Pillars Network.

 

The summit felt like a positive reinforcement for a project we’ve already committed to, a great learning experience to push the boundaries of our knowledge, and a great opportunity to share space with so many other who had a similar vision of a decentralised food system.聽 We’re really excited by some of the projects which are happening around Australia, and indeed around the world as we speak – one of the blogs which we follow regularly is Food+Tech Connect which showcases some of the most exciting Food Tech projects in the States (and a few like us, outside). Make sure you read the ‘Hacking The Food System’ articles.

 

We recently spoke at the Changemakers Convention in Christchurch, New Zealand, where people from around the country outlined their passions, visions & actions in their chosen area of interest.聽 We spoke about “Food Security & Resilience in an Uncertain Future”, which led us to deliver a ‘state of the nation’ of how our food system currently teeters, some examples of food system fragility (largely taken from our blog about disasters & resilience), and the bright future that is emerging with technology enabling new ways for our food system to thrive.

 

For now, it’s back to work on supporting our fantastic beta customers, and spreading the word to more local food distributors who might make use of our system – please feel free to share with your networks if you might know someone who would like to change the food system for the better!

Mapping a peer-to-peer food system of the future

The Meta Move to Local

Buy local - support your local farmers

Awesome poster courtesy of A Snail's View http://bit.ly/AaCqom

We’ve been getting all inspired by watching some movies as of late. We’d like to share these two from The Twelve Films Project, as they exhibit the grass roots shift to fresh, seasonal, local produce which is happening around the world.

A fim a month by Christian Remde - focusing on the local food movement“LOCAL”

“Farm to Trailer”

We were specifically interested in the debate on ‘Local’ regarding organics and the meta trend we see toward knowing your farmer & their methods.聽 We’d love to hear your thoughts on how either the FoodTech industry, or us here at Bucky Box, could facilitate this happening for consumers.

We see the need for transparency and traceability in the food system, so we’d love to hear of other initiatives we could tie in with, or new ideas for how we can make the food system fairer for growers & consumers.

A return to a people & planet friendly food system is happening, now lets think about how we can speed it up.

Seedstock features Bucky Box on Sustainable Agriculture & Tech Startup Blog

We woke up on Tuesday morning to find Seedstock had published an article about Bucky Box’s work in the local food movement.

 

Our founder, Will, had chatted with their writers about our vision for mainstream organic farming, and a people & planet friendly food system, as well as filling them in on the social enterprise angle of our work, where we aim to support champions around the world who work on research, education, capacity building & awareness raising for a better food system.

 

Do take the opportunity to check out the article, entitled “NZ Social Enterprise Bucky Box to Simplify Distribution for Sustainable Farmers with Web-based Application

Read about how NZ Social Enterprise, Bucky Box, is enabling local food distribution through a web software applicationIf you’ve not read Seedstock before, and you have an interest in sustainable agriculture focusing on startups, entrepreneurship, technology, urban agriculture, news and research – then you should head on over to their site right now!

 

Big thanks also to all the people who picked up the article, and are sharing with their networks – a significant boost came from Food+Tech Connect and Slow Food USA through twitter!