This growing season, Northwest food producers and food buyers will begin utilizing FoodHub, a new online resource that simplifies the process of making connections with each other. Representatives from Sound Food recently attended a training session to qualify as FoodHub ambassadors on Bainbridge Island and in the rest of Kitsap County. As such, Sound Food can help area restaurants, food retailers, and food producers to sign up and begin using the FoodHub system. Interested businesses can contact Sound Food to find out more at
A social venture business of the nonprofit Ecotrust, FoodHub (http://food-hub.org ) is designed to increase food trade in the Pacific Northwest. It is the only network in of its kind that accommodates food producers and food buyers of every scale and production type in the Pacific Northwest and parts of Alaska. Customizable search features allow a buyer to hone in on the exact product specifications they are seeking. For wholesale food buyers, FoodHub makes finding local food as easy as it is for someone to search for Mr. or Ms. Right on Match.com®.
“FoodHub fills an urgent need in Kitsap County,” explained Carolyn Goodwin of Sound Food, “Restaurants and retailers are increasingly interested in buying food locally, and they need a way to easily find local producers. FoodHub makes those connections quickly and efficiently, and also serves as an online ordering tool.”
While in beta, 280 Northwest farmers, ranchers, fishers, food producers and wholesale food buyers became registered users of FoodHub. Northwest food producers promoted the availability of more than 560 products to the buying community; buyers expressed a need for 646 products from local sources. An analysis of user data during
the month of January, 2010, shows 1,700 visitors and 14,000 page views from major cities in the Northwest, as well as San Francisco, New York and Canada.
FoodHub’s development team recently created product and ingredient categories for the Northwest dairy, beer, wine and spirits sectors, in addition to the categories for fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, herbs, grains, dry beans and nuts already in place.
Sophisticated search capabilities allow buyers, both large and small, to instantly discover ready suppliers with a few clicks of their computer keyboard. Conversely, sellers can use FoodHub search features to identify new buyer leads and build targeted customer databases. All registered users can complete an online profile that includes a detailed description of their operation and preferred methods for doing business. FoodHub supports both direct market relationships and leverages existing distribution channels to encourage growth in regional food sales. In addition to its search and connect functions, FoodHub can professionalize communications and transactions between parties with its message center, preferred contacts feature, and standardized purchase orders and invoices.
Creation of FoodHub
Developed using open-source technology with private foundation, nonprofit and government resources, FoodHub is intended for broad use throughout the agricultural community. Backers expect FoodHub will strengthen rural communities and make it much easier to localize supply chains. To ensure its success, partnerships have been formed with organizations active in Northwest food buying and food selling circles, including agri-business councils, food product commissions, distributors, grocery retailers, chefs and restaurants, farm to school programs, the Washington State Department of Agriculture, and the Oregon Department of Agriculture, among many others. View the complete list of funders and collaborators at http://food-hub.org/supporters .
About Ecotrust’s Food & Farms Program
Ecotrust’s mission is to inspire fresh thinking that creates social equity, economic opportunity, and environmental well being. With regard to our Food & Farms program, we improve public understanding of agriculture and the challenges it faces and increase the market share of locally grown, processed, and manufactured foods. Whether by introducing a farmer to a chef or a food processor to an institutional buyer, Ecotrust is a trusted “benevolent broker” that has been making connections between food buyers and sellers in the Pacific Northwest for a decade. Learn more at http://ecotrust.org .
About Sound Food
Sound Food, an initiative of Sustainable Bainbridge, was founded to encourage the use of local, seasonal and sustainable food by offering information, recipes, and community to residents of Bainbridge Island and the West Sound region. Its first project was to map food producers in Kitsap County. To find the map and more information on local food visit www.soundfood.org .