Working in the local food industry in Virginia has made me fairly attuned to matters of fresh food supply. For example, when a mother decides to start feeding her family locally-sourced, honest food, the first challenge to to locate a place to buy it. While this is easy enough in some areas – places likely to have a Whole Foods for example – in many areas, especially rural areas – it’s a real problem.
Retailers face a similar challenge to consumers in that the fruit and produce marketing vendor landscape is highly fractured and localized. A typical fruit or produce wholesaler will services a radius within easy distance of their fleet of delivery trucks. As most produce comes in on air freight, this means the distributors tend to be in urban areas well serviced by large airports.
Enter spot fruit and produce marketplace FruitSpot.com Fruitspot matches fruit and produce, er, producers – think local farmers worldwide – and hooks them up with retailers or wholesales looking for produce on the spot market. Fruitspot has relationships with a range of farmers who are set up to deliver fresh fruit and produce on a moment’s notice via the spot market. Fruitspot makes it easy for vendors and buyers of fresh fruit and produce to trade in an online environment optimized for speed and simplicity of execution.
The spot market for fruit and produce plays an important role in the produce industry, filling the gaps and keeping shelves stocked when contracted suppliers fall short or demand shifts unexpectedly. While the spot market is typically not a huge percentage of the overall produce market, it plays a key role in helping buyers find new vendors, fill short-term gaps in inventory, and test out new produce items.
As covered in this ‘behind the scenes’ interview with a fruit buyer in Modern Farmer – Produce buyers use the spot market to create the year-round produce selection consumers demand:
Customers expect us to have a 52-week program on all our items. It’s very hard to deal with a company that says “We have these tomatoes from April until December.” I need places that will give a consistent year-round product. You might get vegetables grown in Canada part of the year, then the same items from Mexico during the winter. There can’t be any intervals when the product isn’t available.
Wholesalers and direct buyers can use the spot market – often at a lower price – to supplement contracted vendors and gain 52-week coverage on key produce categories. Another popular tactic is to use spot market vendors to bring in seasonal, specialty, or test items not provided by local produce wholesalers.
As the spot market is inherently time-sensitive, the aim is to get from a posted request to a trade confirmation in a few hours. Beyond helping buyers find exactly what they need quickly, Fruitspot also provides value-added services to smooth the transaction including:
- Quality assurance and control for produce
- Transportation, logistics, and freight forwarding
- Credit insurance to reduce transaction and payment risks
- Quality and reliability verification of buyers and vendors
- Online alerts and text message updates
- Buyer notifications and alerts for specific produce needs
Vendor relationships are critical for produce buyer. Fruitspot is making it easier for buyers to quickly find new vendors that are per-qualified and ready to supply the specific produce needed quickly. While the spot market may remain a niche of the produce industry, firms like Fruitspot are making finding a spot produce order even easier than a trip to the local farmers market. Finally, the transparency provided by the spot marketplace will help vendors and buyer understand the price, quantity, and demand attributes driving the produce sector, leading to better buying a producing decisions.