Digital foodies' market

Drought, fires and coronavirus sees digital marketplace set up

Coronavirus
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Moving away from bricks and mortar shopfronts.

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FAIR FOODIE: Lisa Papallo has set up a new digital store to link small producers with consumers.

FAIR FOODIE: Lisa Papallo has set up a new digital store to link small producers with consumers.

The coronavirus has seen the launch of another digital marketplace aimed at linking primary producers, chefs, providores, brewers and winemakers with customers.

The website Fair Foodie has been set up by Lisa Papallo, who brought the start date forward to help foodies and producers manage the pandemic.

"It was something I have been thinking about for a while, it was a passion project, but I thought it might take a couple more months to set up," Ms Papallo said.

"A few things stuck out at me, the hospitality industry was struggling with the high cost of food delivery, and I saw a lot of friends struggling as farmers markets closed down due to coronavirus."

Wholesale channels used by many small-scale farmers had also shut down.

"We have seen producers really struggle over the last few years with droughts, fires, and now the virus," Ms Papallo, who lives on the north coast of NSW, said.

We have seen producers really struggle over the last few years with droughts, fires, and now the virus. - Fair Foodie founder Lisa Papallo

At the same time, panic shopping had resulted in a greater awareness of where food came from.

"Everyone has become a bit more mindful of where their food comes from; it doesn't just magically appear on the shelf," Ms Papallo said.

"Through Fair Foodie I've been able to connect with small, independent business owners - from dairy farmers through to brewers and food truck operators - all with immense passion about the products they make, but little by way of online or bricks and mortar storefronts.

The Fair Foodie platform, which already has 40 businesses, allows vendors to sign up free of charge and create their personalised digital shopfront.

The platform features producers across NSW, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria, from retailers ranging from restaurants, food trucks, farm-fresh produce and cafes, to kombucha makers, non-alcoholic spirits and baked goods.

Each profile features images, videos, descriptions, products and pricing managed entirely by the vendor.

Vendors also have the opportunity to list and promote their events.

"It's about time we told their story," she said

Ms Papallo said her goal was to make the process simple for any producer, without any lengthy application or approval system, regardless of how big or small the business was.

"Rather than spending weeks or months building an expensive website, a small business can now have their customised digital storefront within an hour."

Deliveries could be done locally or Australia wide.

"There can also be opportunities within wholesale or farmgate operations to supply restaurants; we want to create wholesale and customer networks," Ms Papallo said.

Producers have the option of directing customers to their web stores or, for a nominal 5 per cent processing fee, use Fair Foodie's secure shopping platform (powered by PayPal) for shoppers to place orders directly.

Vendors managed their sites, giving them the freedom to choose their preferred delivery service and timeframes.

"Fair Foodie gives producers complete control over how their products are sold and delivered," Ms Papallo said.

By cutting out the middleman and standard shipping charges, more profit went into the pockets of producers.

Ms Papallo said major delivery platforms in Australia had recently come under fire for charging upwards of 35pc commission fees to restaurants using their delivery services.

And in the retail sector, stock quantities and margins required to be on the shelves of Australia's major grocery outlets may be unattainable for most of most small, independent producers.

"The control of delivery by vendors on the site ensures that no hidden charges are worn by either the producer or consumer - putting more money in producers' pockets and giving these business owners a fair go," Ms Papallo said.

"I am taking inquiries every single day, although there is still a little hesitation from regional producers, who have not used a digital platform in the past.

"Maybe they are feeling a little overwhelmed.

"But there is no risk, there is no cost to sign up, and no risk in setting up a one-page shopfront telling people you exist.

Interested vendors should visit www.fairfoodie.com.au and select 'List Your Business'.

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