Astute entrepreneurs in Michigan are capitalizing on the demand for locally grown food by using technology to facilitate bringing products to consumers. The Michigan success stories are notable for aspiring business owners looking for an angle to start new companies. A prominent pathway to commercial success is duplicating a sound formula at a new location. Improving delivery of agricultural products is a perfect example because people everywhere must consume food.
Logistics technology for food has already burst onto the scene in California. Michigan is a reasonable location to implement the same solutions because the state’s agricultural diversity of more than 200 commodities is second in the nation to California. In fact, Michigan’s $71.3 billion of annual agricultural production places the state as the country’s largest provider of blueberries, tart cherries, and three types of dry beans.
LocalOrbit is based in Ann Arbor and has experienced 18 percent annual growth for a decade in its sales channel for local food. The company utilizes a modern method to replace traditional telephone and fax tools used for local supply chains.
LocalOrbit software simplifies the distribution process by matching farmers and food buyers at nearby restaurants. The platform creates a centralized ordering, delivery, and payment system for chefs. Produce growers have a place where they are easily found by the restaurants. LocalOrbit provides customized websites with e-commerce and marketing tools to build the presence of local farmers.
Also operating out of Ann Arbor is Real Time Farms, which has the goal of establishing a crowdsourced national food guide. By entering a ZIP code, users can explore farms in the area. Search results indicate what to find at a nearby farmers market or on menus of restaurants supplied by local growers. More than 3,200 farms and 6,900 farmers markets throughout the country have been added by users of Real Time Farms. The new company has initiated “Food Warriors” to branch out into their local food markets. More than 20 cities are already well documented on the website.
Farming is a growth industry in Michigan as the state added more than 3,000 new farms in recent years. Plenty of them can use help reaching consumers because over 90 percent of Michigan farmland is owned by families or individuals. Entrepreneurs looking to capture new opportunities in similar locales will find plenty of avenues for rendering support services, such as technological innovations.