Never before has so much of the world’s food supply been controlled by so few people. A handful of elite executives wield an incredible amount of power over the rest of us.
· major depletion of our soils and ecosystems caused by megascale monocrops;
· the extreme carbon footprint of chemical fertilisers and extraordinary food miles;
· global disease epidemics from an overload of synthesized ingredients and preservatives;
· malnourishment of near 1 billion people caused by the primary aim of the food industry being to make money, not to feed people.
What would have to happen for us to short-circuit mass-produced, synthetic, centralised food – to bypass the supermarket – and have authentic local and cottage foods the more affordable and convenient option?
My role was to help a European multinational gain entry into the Australian market where it could start to dominate the sweet bread sector, and we were quite successful. In a very short time we racked up sales over $1 million per month and took a lot of business away from many small and local patisseries around the country – and I was gaining a behind-the-scenes perspective of how the centralised food game is really played.
I’d believed that supermarkets and megachains were so big and successful because they somehow knew how to deliver “the Best Products at the Best Prices”.
What I discovered, however, is illustrated in the chart (where the dots, representing the different suppliers of a particular product or range, indicate the volume each is capable of producing): the best products at the best prices often don’t even get considered by mainstream food outlets unless they can also be produced in enormous quantities.
The reason for this is that it’s much cheaper to deal with one supplier than 100. So most shoppers get a choice of buying food supplied by the big players only, even though it’s often lower value for money. The small players are sidelined and either scratch out a living at weekend farmers’ markets, or sell to boutique retail outlets.
When we shop at the mainstream outlets, we’re missing out on many of the best products at the best prices. So why don’t we all just start buying from the little guys instead?
· supporting local economies by increasing local employment and food production skills,
· reducing our carbon footprint,
· eating more natural ingredients and
· putting power back into the hands of the many.
Beating the big players on both value and convenience can be done – and it's simpler than you may imagine. Remember how eBay turned the second-hand goods industry on its head? We’re about to do the same with food.
Our crew runs a super-lean logistical system and keeps things radically simple, operating from a shipping container in a carpark and using our homes and backyards as office space. Our customers are as delighted as our suppliers: so far we’ve been able to keep prices around 5% lower than normal retail prices.
We believe the food marketplace of the future needs to be free of individual ownership. Though local operators of Ooooby Hubs are private businesses, the Ooooby platform they use is owned in common to keep it fair for everyone.
We can look forward to an age of nutritious food – provided enough of us support local growers. By making local food a priority, you can help us make grocery shopping the easiest and most fun way to create a bright food future for our kids.