Building a new food system

Building a new food system

The ‘super market’ came on the scene in New Zealand, around 60 years ago promising diversity and an abundance of cheap produce. At that time only 54% of New Zealand households had access to a refrigerator, so most Kiwis were shopping on an ‘as needed basis’. The local butcher, greengrocer and corner dairy were the most visited shops. Tom Ah Chee built the first Foodtown supermarket in 1958 with business partners Norm Kent and John Brown. The 1,400 square metre store was opened on a 1.1-hectare site at Otahuhu and boasted 118 car-parking spaces. It proved such a success that a second Foodtown was opened in nearby Takanini, three years later. The store offered convenience, by selling meat and produce as well as other grocery items. Tom Ah Chee, had observed retailing trends in the United States and also knew that an increasing number of Kiwis had cars. He figured that if his business offered free car parking, ‘then all those cars would belong to my customers’. The rest, as they say, is history. More and bigger In Christchurch the city’s first supermarket opened in 1963. The site of Riccarton Mall is shown here in the early 1960s, as the foundations were laid. By the 2000s the mall had expanded to fill the entire block. Throughout the country local authorities began to plan for new shopping centres as suburbs grew and car ownership increased. In 2007 the Foodstuffs group accounted for around 55% of the nation’s grocery turnover. It had about 850 stores operating under the PAK’nSAVE, New World, Write Price, On the Spot and Four Square brands. Progressive Enterprises, which operated Foodtown, Woolworths, Countdown, Fresh Choice and Super Value...
Should NZ copy France and force supermarkets in giving unsold food to the needy?

Should NZ copy France and force supermarkets in giving unsold food to the needy?

When the French government announced a ban on supermarkets throwing away unsold food, New Zealand was one of a number of countries to throw in their two cents worth on the matter. NZ Listener food columnist Lauraine Jacobs weighed in on the topic when she tweeted: “C’mon NZ. It’s not rocket science. France becomes first to force all supermarkets to give unsold food to needy.” Under the new law, supermarkets in France with a footprint of 400 square metres or more must donate food no longer fit for sale to charities or for animal feed. Yet research from France’s Ministry of Ecology shows that shops are responsible for just over a tenth of the 7.1 billion tonnes of food wasted by the nation each year – 11% in fact, of which 5% comes from supermarkets. And consumers? The average French national generates 67% of those 7.1 billion tonnes, which equates to about 20-30kg of food wasted per person each year. Even more horrifying than that is how around 7kg of those 20-30kgs is food that’s still wrapped. Assuming our situation is about the same as France, shouldn’t we first be looking to unpack our own waste behaviours before we start dumping the blame on supermarkets? While there’s been no specific research into the amount of food New Zealand supermarkets waste, The Waste Management Institute of New Zealand (WasteMINZ) has done plenty to lift the lid on amount of food binned by households.  WasteMINZ estimates that the average family buys and chucks out some $563 worth of unused food each year, which amounts to 122,547 tonnes of food and costs the nation about $872 million per year.  As a consumer, I know there’s more I could...
The world’s urgent need for new generation growers

The world’s urgent need for new generation growers

The average age of crop farmers in New Zealand is currently almost 50 years and rising. As many growers are reaching a retirement age, this will leave a huge gap to fill for the next generation. Even if the kids are up for taking over farm operations, farm succession plans are quite complex structures to set up, requiring a great amount of commitment from young people. When there is no one in the family willing to take over operations, there are not many other options to keep the farm going after the farmer stops working. Unpopular career choice For a while already farming does not have the best image when it comes to career choices. Studies in agriculture are not popular and there are only a few places to get a degree in New Zealand in this area. There are no national programs to encourage young people to choose this direction, it is often more seen as a last resort choice for those not suited for a more demanding career in law or economics. For a country where the economy depends for almost 80% on agriculture, this does not seem to add up. More than ever is there a need for young educated people to bring innovative sustainable farming to the next level. New lifestyle choices However, there is a trend of young people heading back to the land, lifestyle blocks are more popular than ever as more families are realizing a fast life in the city might not be the best recipe for a happy and fulfilling life. Albeit small scale, food is often grown on those lands,...
More about Ooooby

More about Ooooby

We exist primarily to rebuild local food economies because we believe that changing the way we produce and distribute food is fundamental to solving the world’s most pressing social and ecological problems. The founding team is serious about putting mission before money. To this end, the founders have transferred 90% of their shares in Ooooby Ltd to the Ooooby Foundation, a not-for-profit trust with the primary purpose of rebuilding our local food systems. This way, a large proportion of profits will be channelled into supporting local food projects such as community gardens, food growing education, purchasing land for food production and funding for local food start-ups.   We connect growers to customers through an online platform which makes local food competitive with mainstream retail on both price and convenience. Our business model is to provide software and support for local teams to distribute local food to local customers. Each local hub manages logistics and transport within their region. We differ from traditional online retailers by mostly buying directly from local food producers in preference to conventional wholesalers. This means the food is typically fresher and the grower is paid more, because there are lower transport, storage and handling costs. We currently pay a minimum of 50% of retail prices to our suppliers, ensuring a viable margin for sustainability in the long term. We are able to pay fair prices to producers yet still offer competitive prices to customers because our software reduces supply chain costs by managing logistics. Along with licensing the software platform, we provide hubs with management services to assist them in opening and operating in their own...
Why 52% of fresh food produce is wasted and how can we change our food system

Why 52% of fresh food produce is wasted and how can we change our food system

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is on a rampage to expose the ridiculous levels of food waste caused by our modern food systems. Hugh’s War on Waste programme on BBC tells the story of a Norfolk veg farmers who were forced to discard 40% of their harvest because they were too long, too short or just wonky which equates to approximately 20 tonnes of parsnips each week. The percentage of food going to waste has been steadily increasing over the last 40 years and is now reaching ludicrous proportions. This is clearly unsustainable and begs the question ‘what can we do to reverse this trend?’ Our current food waste numbers It’s estimated that around 24% of fresh produce is wasted before it reaches the supermarkets, 9% is binned by the supermarkets and another 19% is tossed before it reaches our forks resulting in less than half  getting into our bellies.* The diagram above shows that the largest proportion of waste (24%) comes from farmers growing more than the supermarkets buy.  They do this for two reasons; the supermarket sales model is based on visual merchandising which means that they only want cosmetically beautiful food forcing the farmer to cull anything that isn’t picture book perfect, and the supermarket supply chain requires food to be in transit and sit on shelves for a long time, so even the smallest blemishes need to be eliminated in case they spread over time and betray the lack of freshness of the whole batch. The remaining part of supply chain waste (9%) comes from food that is left on the shelf.  This is the result of merchandising psychology....
Where’s the Money Honey

Where’s the Money Honey

This chart shows you an approximate split of an Ooooby Hub income.  The chart on the left is based on actual boxes shipped per week and the chart on the right is based on projected boxes shipped.  We currently ship around 500 boxes per week in our largest hub.  The 8% that goes to Ooooby Core is to cover software development and technical support, financial management for the hubs and national marketing. The investment memorandum speaks about Ooooby’s ownership, how hubs are key in redesigning the local food system and the vision of local food being convenient, affordable and fair...