Food.Farm is a smartphone app that is connecting the canteen industry. Office workers can order lunch using it. The company is fast gaining traction in the South African corporate world, particularly in Cape Town and Durban.
Recently, Food.Farm landed a 350 meal a day contract in Durban and has signed up its first kitchen in Cape Town, Food We Love. The first South African lunch was ordered and delivered via the platform on August 3.
Food.Farm is built on the Uber and Airbnb business models, meaning anyone can sign up anywhere.
Operations chief Tauriq Adams told Weekend Argus the start-up came about primarily as a result of the high cost of food as a foreigner living in Norway.
“This then led us to look at food waste and where we could limit waste and provide food at cheaper prices. This led us to analysing canteens and the fact that canteens contribute to food waste in many ways.
"We then disrupted this market by providing companies with an alternative. A digital canteen - a platform that connects companies to kitchens,” Adams said.
They also managed to cut down food waste by using mainly kitchens, and not restaurants, to provide food. Meals are ordered a day in advance, meaning the kitchen is able to plan better and to tighten stock control.
Unlike UberEATS, which delivers on demand, Food.Farm delivers in bulk.
“A single company can easily translate into 50 lunches per day. We are currently working on a 350 meal per day deal in Durban.”
“UberEATS uses one car to deliver one, two maybe three meals to cater to individual orders. Essentially, we are bulking and grouping orders; we are just expanding on that and catering to a bigger section of the market,” Adams said.
Employees download the app and order their food, and companies get a range of lunch providers while being able to subsidise meals.
In comparison to UberEATS, Adams said: “We differ in a number of ways. UbeEATS is what we call an ‘on-demand’ service. In other words, at any given time, you place your order and your meal gets made and delivered.
"It's also a B2C business (business to consumer). Food.Farm is primarily a B2B (business to business), where the company signs up for free and we deliver pre-ordered lunches to their employees - giving the company all of the benefits of a canteen.
So, companies can still subsidise meals but now with the added variety of different service providers. So instead of having an on-board canteen, companies sign up for free and within minutes can make use of any number of suppliers for lunches, overtime meals and catered events,” he said
The app, which is available to download, is running in beta-mode in South Africa. Food.Farm aims to be up and running with about 10 kitchens in time for summer, followed by a formal launch.
“The platform is built on the sharing economy model - anyone, anywhere can sign up since we don’t own the companies or kitchens. Yes, we plan on covering the major cities in South Africa and then moving into areas in Africa.
“We are looking at working with renewable projects to provide the workforce with lunch made by local communities. We also want to make our platform available to feeding schemes and organisations involved in the co-ordination and distribution of food.
"This last week saw us receive requests from Manila in the Philippines - very exciting times,” Adams said.