Ex-broker is out to save local producers one click at a time with Farmdrop
- Credit: Archant
Having grown frustrated at the lack of quality local produce easily available in north London, Maida Vale resident Ben Pugh launched a fresh wholefoods delivery website, finds Alex Bellotti
“It’s important that Farmdrop works,” says Ben Pugh bullishly, and he has the facts in hand to prove it. Since 1966, over half of Britain’s farmland birds have disappeared; over the same period, national obesity has surged, while countless local producers have been put out of business by supermarket behemoths.
For the 37-year-old, the solution is clear. Put the money back in producers’ pockets by cutting out middle men, delivering fresh food directly to the doors of consumers, who also feel the savings. Since 2012, this has at least been the aim of Pugh’s internet delivery service, Farmdrop, which hopes to offer the convenience of a supermarket with more competitive prices than the average farmer’s market.
“We’re trying to return to the natural order of the past, not just in terms of food production, but also in helping those local producers by giving them a state of the art selling channel,” says the Maida Vale resident. “That’s a really powerful combination, because as a customer I want all the convenience of going onto an app and ordering my fresh bread and fish, but I also want that amazing taste, freshness and quality that you only get by going directly to a producer – you’re never going to get this in a supermarket.”
Previously a stockbroker at Morgan Stanley, Pugh had grown frustrated by the lack of local produce easily available in north London. Convinced by conversations with friends, family and farmers, he quit his job in 2012 to develop the business full-time.
“It was categorically the biggest risk I’ve ever taken,” he says. “Even though I’d spent a lot of time looking at the food supply chain as part of my job at Morgan Stanley, it was an extremely fresh start for me and it’s been a case of learning a new thing every single day.”
Farmdrop now delivers straight to your door; vegetables are picked and breads are baked the same day as they are delivered, so customers receive the freshest food and the producers minimise their waste.
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Transparency is also a key issue, and the website carefully lists where each product comes from. It also has biographies of the more-than-50 producers involved, who range from local London bakers to Somerset dairy farmers.
For truly competitive prices, it’s worth digging around, but there are certainly some gems: the Brinkworth Dairy salted butter (£1.70 for 200g), Keen’s cheddar (£2.50 for 200g) and Bread Ahead’s ciabatta loaf (£2) were all knockouts with my family. All going well, that range is only set to grow.