Bristol company aims to break the mass food supply chain and help farmers too with an on-line shop for local food.
Food Entrepreneur, Rich Osborn, thinks big. He wants to transform the way we get our food - with shorter food supply chains delivering fresher food faster from farm to fork. And he wants to offer lower prices to the shopper and a better deal for farmers, too.
And he’s doing it already. Rich’s company, Fresh-Range, operates a short-journey food network collecting fresh food from more than 100 ethical farmers and food producers in Gloucestershire, Somerset and North Devon and delivering direct to customers’ doors in Bristol and Bath. Customers can select products on their website, compare the prices with supermarkets and have them delivered to their door in reusable wool-lined insulated boxes to keep them cool.
Fresh-Range say cutting food miles and reducing the need for physical storage means they have lower costs and can pay fair prices to farmers. They source from Soil Association and RSPCA Freedom Foods Producers as well as small boat fisheries. But Rich Osborn says none of these ethical standards would mean anything if they failed in some basic consumer principles. ”In the food industry, there are three boxes which have to be ticked – quality, value and convenience – ahead of any ethical considerations. If you don’t tick those boxes, then consumers won’t buy from you in sufficient numbers and there won’t be any ethical impact.”
Rich also wants to reduce the carbon footprint of food distribution – by making sure their lorries are never empty. “We want our trucks to go out full of customer orders and, after delivering them, stop off at farms to pick up fresh food to bring back to our warehouse,” Rich says. ”It doesn’t always happen, but we are getting there.”
Fresh-Range – the name comes from “Fresher Food Within Range” - has more than 3,000 customers including restaurants and councils. Last year, a rights issue valued the company at £3.66m.
The company says “combining local with scale” is opening up new markets – like council meal services and universities - to small food producers for the first time. They recently won a £2.1m, three-year contract to supply produce for 1.4 million meals per year in 40+ schools in Bath and North East Somerset.
Rich now sits on various bodies advising the public sector on food procurement. He says: “The public sector spends £1.2bn on food procurement every year. Changing the way it spends that money could drive positive social change, open up new markets to small-scale producers and make Britain’s supply chain more secure and sustainable.”
Rich is thinking big. He wants to change food for good.
Fresh-Range’s website is: www.fresh-range.com.