How long does it take for an apple to go from orchard to shopping basket? Too long, according to the B2B startup Fresh.Land. They want to fast-track the process by setting up direct digital supply chains between farmers and supermarkets.
Four months. That's how long the average orange travels from the tree to the hands of the consumer. And how does it survive the trip without being bashed and bruised? That's the job of chemicals and pesticides. And seeing how they'll be travelling such a long time to reach the supermarket, fruits and vegetables obviously have to be harvested long before they're actually ready to be. Which means products end up tasting just as unripe as they really are. Startup Fresh.Land believes that all this can be done differently, and wants to drastically streamline the way farm products are distributed: by allowing supermarkets to order products directly from farmers via an online platform. A delivery company then transports the products directly from the farm to the shop. The customer ends up with a fresher, better-quality product, that also gives better profit margins to the producers and thanks to shorter transport routes, storage and refrigeration times, also produces less CO2, meaning products with a much smaller ecological footprint.
Long Supply Chains = Poor-quality Products and Low Profits
The founder of this business-to-business startup, Filipe Leal, is the son of a farmer himself. Concerned at the sight of his father's livelihood becoming more and more precarious, with the prices of agricultural produce dropping, he began looking for a solution. Fresh.Land is the result. A long supply chain of intermediaries means that farmers are earning less and less for the foods they produce. Added to that, long storage times mean that products are harvested and sold unripe so that they make it to the supermarkets more or less unscathed. Only after the addition of ethylene (a plant hormone that different fruits and vegetables produce during the ripening process) does the food start to ripen, while fungicides stop mould from forming and wax gives the fruits an appetising shine.
Support Farmers and Ensure Food Quality with Fresh.Land
Leal's company deals directly with farmers and retailers. Farmers can log on to the online platform and post information about what kind of products they currently have, and how much of them. Retailers are then able to order and buy them directly. Thanks to the direct trade, farmers earn up to three times as much for their produce. Logistics partners then take care of the transportation from seller to buyer. And just three days later, the products are available to buy in the supermarket - fast enough to make the use of chemical preservatives unnecessary.
According to the WWF programme Climate Solver, this concept - which bypasses unnecessary transport routes, long refrigeration times and chemical treatments - could mean the emission of up to 88 per cent less greenhouse gases. If only a tiny 20 per cent of the market - in Germany alone! - were to switch from traditional supply processes to using the more efficient Fresh.Land idea, that could mean a saving of a huge 12.7 million tonnes of CO2 each year: roughly as much as the whole of Germany's second largest city - Frankfurt am Main - produces each year. And added to all that, by working directly with the concept of supply and demand, the whole process ends up producing much less wasted food.
Okay, so it might not be quite as extreme as the Belgians and their new zero-mile food supply chains, but it's definitely an idea that could work, as well as being something that could be easily and successfully applied on a large scale. Check out the video below to find out more.
This article was translated from the original by Laura which appeared on our German language site.