Your Food Collective: eat well, do good
Your Food Collective connects regenerative growers with future-focused NSW consumers, helping them to make better food choices and reduce waste along the supply chain. This article was first published on evokeag.com, Australia’s leading agrifood tech network.
Every year, each Australian wastes, on average, one in five bags of groceries. This is equal to 312kg per person. This waste happens at various points along the supply chain. On the farm, from oversupply and inefficient harvesting practices; in the grocery sector, where imperfect produce doesn’t make the cut or where food is lost during transportation or in-store; and in homes and restaurants. That’s 7.6 million tonnes of food, in Australia alone.
Ecologist Lauren Branson and her cousin Cara Cooper, whose background is in corporate risk assessment, co-founded Your Food Collective in part to reverse these figures.
“Our food system is complex,” Branson says. “The history of how we got here is complex. The solutions aren’t simple. As consumers, we all have an opportunity to play a significant role in our food landscape moving forward. We’re focused on regenerative practices, circularity and zero waste across the supply chain.”
Paddock to plate
Your Food Collective is an online farmers’ market and grocery delivery service that works with regenerative farmers to provide produce directly to consumers in the Sydney and Newcastle regions. It sells everything from fruit and veg boxes to T-bone steaks, honey and plant-based ready-made meals. With strict food standards, such as seven sustainability criteria that producers must meet, Your Food Collective ensures that 95 percent of produce is sourced within 250km of a consumer’s front door.
The criteria centres around many things farmers are already doing. This includes deploying and capturing data on-farm about soil health, waste reduction, closed-loop farming methods and insetting carbon. This provides farmers with diversity in distribution channels as well as the ability to attract premium prices to offset investments in sustainability.
“We have a massive spreadsheet of data that we collect from our producers, on things like their growing practices and their packaging,” Branson says. “We collect info on the nutritional content of their products, on the story behind the food. And we also have a panel of people who taste the food and rank it using scientific tasting methods.”
Benefits for growers and eaters
The result is an operation that transparently delivers to consumers while also providing a sustainable source of income for growers. The Your Food Collective model ensures farmers don’t harvest until an order is placed for their produce; that consumers only have access to the produce that sustainable, regenerative farmers are growing in season; and that there’s less waste at all stages. A custom-built backend enables adjustment ordering, ensuring producers are only harvesting what they need for sales.
“We also grade food based on flavour, not on size and shape,” Branson explains. “A shortened supply chain means that food is less than 48 hours from paddock to plate.”
Branson recognises some consumers may be hesitant about relinquishing control of their shop. However, she says that the Your Food Collective difference lies in the team’s attention to detail and respect for produce and farmers.
“The customer is top of mind with everything we do,” she says. “We make sure we pick the best produce. Meeting your needs and expectations is incredibly high on our list. Also, think about how much time you could save if you never had to go to the supermarket again.”
Filling the trust gap in grocery delivery
The strength for Your Food Collective, Branson says, is in trusting that the business has already done the hard yards in terms of sourcing quality providers, and that they’ll deliver on their promises. It also offers recipes and stories on its farmers and producers.
“We’ve done all the sourcing with producers,” she says. “We bring them to life. It’s re-educating ourselves in terms of ‘what does a good tomato look like?’ It’s something we try to do through our platform by connecting consumers to stories and information. It doesn’t need to be overwhelming. If you’ve got good produce, you don’t have to do much with it.”
Your Food Collective also only works with regenerative farmers, to support resilient and future-focused farming practices in the face of a changing environment.
“If we don’t look at how we’re growing our food and try to build a more resilient landscape, it’s going to be incredibly hard to feed our growing population,” she says. “It all starts with what you buy at the checkout, every single day of the week.
Your Food Collective is now keen to enter national markets. Since founding in 2017, they’ve worked with more than 100 local producers to offer 700+ products. Ultimately, Branson says their goal is to build Australia’s most sustainable grocery offering.
“Consumers are looking for ways to make better food choices. We need to create a foodscape that helps them make those choices. And make it easy, one shop at a time.”
For more information about Your Food Collective, head yourfoodcollective.com