PORTLAND, Maine - Maine entrepreneur David Stone is hoping new computer software will help the movement toward an old value: locally-produced food.
"I believe that we're seeing a resurgence, a rebirth of the small, independent grocer, butcher and farmer,” Stone says. “And I, also - looking at the trend data - see that millennials, like several of the people that work with me, this is what they want: to buy closer to the source."
Stone has created a new Portland company called "Forager." Its software helps grocers place orders with local farmers and enables the farmers to let grocers know what produce is available.
Stone says for grocers, dealing with giant, national wholesalers and producers is efficient. "But if I'm working with 30 or 40 farmers,” Stone says, “ordering my produce, and managing all of that, it's a very labor-intensive, expensive, time-consuming process."
Forager changes that by creating software that farmers, armed with nothing more than a personal computer or tablet, can use to tell retailers what kind of produce they have to sell. It allows buyers to place orders, and pay, electronically.
Stone says the software reduces the paperwork and staff a grocer might need to deal with dozens of different food producers. He says all that work can eat up half the profit from selling locally-grown food.
Forager has already begun working with some Maine grocers and producers. Today, it's rolling out to the rest of New England and upstate New York.