Why Local is Better for Businesses and Institutions

Make/Grow Local is a business-to-business (aka B2B) online platform, connecting local makers and growers with businesses and institutions looking to buy food or other products products from their area. So, this begs the question, how do these businesses and institutions benefit from sourcing locally?

Supporting the Local Economy
By supporting local growers and makers, businesses are putting their money back into the local economy. As a result, the area is economically enriched. The American Independent Business Alliance describes this effect:

On average, 48 percent of each purchase at local independent businesses was recirculated locally, compared to less than 14 percent of purchases at chain stores.”

Over time, this impact can improve quality of life in the community, create a more business-friendly environment, and even bring economic benefit back into the business that sourced locally in the first place.

Local Products are More Environmentally Friendly
Sourcing local products are an easy way for a business to be greener. Shorter distances for deliveries means less energy and fewer resources are used to transport products. For that reason, food products are fresher and taste better too. Additionally, these smaller, local farms are often more sustainable and have more environmentally friendly growing practices.

Take Advantage of Unique Products
Nearly every location has some products, food or otherwise, that make it unique. For example, Maine has blueberries, apples, potatoes, lobster, and more. Incorporating foods native to the area fosters a stronger sense of area identity for locals and tourists alike.

Local Products are More Socially Responsible
Buying local strongly integrates a business with the community. It can create a sense of goodwill with producers, employees, potential customers, local lawmakers, and the public at large. Improved goodwill is valuable to any type of business or institution.

The benefits for businesses buying locally are numerous, and extend beyond even those mentioned here. Make/Grow Local gives businesses and institutions the opportunity to grow their business and their goodwill and along with their community. Whether restaurant, university, hospital, corporation, or other type of business, Make/Grow Local could connect your company with the area producers you need to make local sourcing work for your business. To learn more about how to get involved in our marketplace, contact us today.

Access to Maine-Grown Food

Here’s a highlight from the Maine Farmland Trusts’ Maine Farmland Trust report, released in 2016, concerning institutional access to Maine-grown foods. It describes the challenge that Make/GrowLocal was created to solve — on behalf the makers and growers.

Almost 30 percent of the buyers participating in this study, across all markets segments, report not knowing where or how to locate farmers or other direct suppliers of Maine grown food and ingredients.

They lack information about how to set to set up and manage direct buy arrangements. Personnel working at locations that are successfully integrating locally sourced food into their operations report that personal relationships with their farmers and local distributors are very rewarding.

A significant barrier to increasing Maine-sourced food and ingredients is related to lack of information about availability of distributor’s Maine-grown lists: many buyers working with broadline distributors are not aware of such lists and don’t know how to access the information.

With our new community-run digital platform “MGL”, buyers of any size can discover new local suppliers, directly order from them, and aggregate orders together across several smaller providers to full larger demands.

Maine-sourced food in the Bangor region

Head over to the Bangor Food Hub Consortium website to read their 2016 report about opportunities for Maine-grown food.

The consortium sought an analysis of the demand in institutions, restaurants, school systems, and other entities that purchase and serve food in large quantities for locally grown and produced food products, within a 50-mile radius of Bangor…. Purchasing and sourcing activity among the fifty-three participants in this study implies that, within 50 miles of Bangor, at least 70 percent of the potential market for Maine-grown food and ingredients is unmet. Among study participants alone this conservatively equates to $5,000,000 of annual opportunity or an average of approximately $94,000 per week.


Distribution matters

Local goods and food producers need to be aware of the power of platforms, and strive to make them work for them, not against. A community-owned discovery and distribution platform like MakeGrowLocal is essential.

In the digital world, the distribution of goods and services is essentially free. Amazon, Google, Facebook, Uber, Netflix: They’re are all distributors. But because the internet makes it almost trivial for makers to connect with consumers, these companies are also the world’s best aggregators — the ones that suppliers have no choice but to work with. As of December, the 10 most valuable public consumer internet companies, which together represent over a trillion dollars in value, were all aggregators.

In the physical goods world, where the food growers and local  artisans create and deliver their goods, distribution platforms that aggregate the market’s demand must provide streamlined, friction-free user experiences, for sure, but must also create efficiencies in the sometimes unprofitable business of logistics and last-mile delivery.

distribution and last-mile flywheel

An important thought:

Success doesn’t automatically spring from owning the best interface between a supplier and a consumer, as is the case for most firms in the current era. For the growing number of startups involved in moving physical goods or services, owning and controlling distribution is absolutely a core competency—a vital part of the flywheel—and not just a commodity.

Two articles for further reading: an article discussing networks from FreshDesk, and Ben Thompson’s aggregation theory.