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Rhode Island’s Market Mobile Hits $1.5 Million in Sales

Saturday, December 15, 2012

 

Farm Fresh Rhode Island's Market Mobile program, which distributes local foods to local restaurants, has reached $1.5 million in sales. Photo: Farm Fresh RI.

When it comes to food in Rhode Island, local is working--literally. Farm Fresh Rhode Island has announced that as of this past week's delivery of fresh, local food from its Pawtucket warehouse to local chefs, grocers and cafeterias, its Market Mobile wholesale food hub program reached $1,500,000 in sales for the 2012 calendar year. That translates into an estimated $4 million local economic impact so far this year.

Market Mobile

Developed in 2006, Rhode Island's Market Mobile is a unique model for wholesale food distribution system designed from the ground up around the needs of farmers and buyers. Every week of the year, 60 family farms and small food producers in Rhode Island and Massachusetts list their fresh produce, honey, eggs, dairy and meat for sale to wholesale customers in Providence, Newport, Westerly and the Boston area. Online ordering at www.marketmobile.org pools together sales, delivery and invoicing. Market Mobile farmers can focus on growing and harvesting the tastiest food in town and drop off all of their customers’ orders at the food hub warehouse. Buyers just have one order form, delivery, and invoice to deal with no matter how many farms they order from.

The program began as a result of a 2006 meeting between Farm Fresh RI and the Newport Restaurant Group about creating an easy way for restaurants to order from local farmers. Prior to Market Mobile, few of the participating farms sold their food to wholesale customers, and few customers were purchasing from local farms.

Growing local sources

Since its start in 2009, Market Mobile has experienced phenomenal growth as a result of increasing demand for fresh foods and the ease and efficiencies of the Market Mobile model. Original funding was provided by RI DEM Division of Agriculture, Castle Hill Inn and private donations. Farmers have sold over $3.5 million dollars of local food to nearly 300 chefs, grocery stores, hospitals, schools and other customers through the Market Mobile platform. It has created 53 new jobs on and off the farm, and helped get fresh healthy foods to thousands of RI and MA eaters. It also has meant small family farms are able to grow their businesses, and chefs and groceries have access to high-quality produce. Everyone who lives and eats here can find tasty, local foods in more and more places. The abundance of fresh ingredients makes it a no brainer that Providence was named as this year's top U.S. city for food by Travel + Leisure Magazine.

 

Today, the Market Mobile farm-to-table model is being used to get similar food hubs off the ground across the country. Market Mobile was chosen as a case study for the National Good Food Network and participates in Wholesome Wave’s Healthy Food Commerce Initiative. Here in Rhode Island, an upcoming 2013 expansion effort will give Farm Fresh the cooler space to allow Market Mobile farms’ sales to grow another 50% in the next 2 years and add more processing capacity to work with school, hospital and workplace cafeterias. 

This year also saw the creation of a Farm to Food Pantry program in which leftover farmers market produce is distributed the next day to a network of 10 pantries along existing Market Mobile truck routes

 

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