Local2Local had been buying produce from the Flevopolder for several years, such as from Martin Topper of Zonneheerdt in Dronten, due to the simple fact that practically no vegetables are grown in Utrecht. Utrecht did have a healthy breeding ground for short-chain development. The Krommerijn Crate, Beebox, Streekmolen, Local2Local and Willem & Drees originated on Utrecht soil. A common interest was quickly born.
In early 2018, contact first arose between Vereniging Flevofood and Local2Local to see if, with cooperation, a robust and efficient short chain could be set up in Flevoland for the marketing of local products in Flevoland, but especially also in other regions. Local2Local already had a lot of experience with this and also offered a nice online trading platform for different short chain variants.
The first success in October 2018
The first success was achieved immediately in a European context. Bauke van der Veen, Flevofood board member and founder of Vleesch & Co, became part of the EU’s Smartchain H2020 consortium at the recommendation of Local2Local, which is actively working on knowledge development for short chains. Besides a nice sum for the effort, this mainly gave access to networks and knowledge. Local2Local and Meat & Co are pulling together and are the leading case studies within Smartchain.
The same period also saw the creation of the Task Force Short Chain (TKK), in which Flevofood Association becomes one of the regular regional partners. Local2Local is a founding member of the TKK and the Taskforce is building on the GAIN transition model that Local2Local contributed to the consortium.
The cooperation will really take off after the summer of 2019. Flevoland Province still has a piece of EU budget of several tens of thousands of euros from FC4EU to accelerate Flevofood’s development in four months. In September, Flevofood and Local2Local picked up the gauntlet. Since then, things have really accelerated.
Full throttle in the polder
With the initial impetus, many pieces of the puzzle fell into place. Parties that had been waiting months for each other to make the first move got moving and joined the collaboration. Rabobank MRA also responded enthusiastically to the collaboration, and during a meeting at Local2Local’s office, Barbara Baarsma expressed her desire to realise a short chain in the MRA in collaboration with Local2Local as well. Flevofood and Food Hub, co-initiator of the TKK, joined forces.
Rabobank Amsterdam organised a meeting during the Horecava as part of Food Forward, expressing Rabobank’s ambitions in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area (MRA). Rabobank MRA gave Local2Local the fine task of expanding the L2L platform for this ambition.
The collaboration between Joris Lohman (The Food Hub), Bauke van der Veen (Flevofood Association) and Mark Frederiks (Local2Local) then really took off.
Part of the assignment for the benefit of the Flevoland short chain, from both the Province of Flevoland and Rabobank MRA, involved activating the stakeholder network and setting up a trading platform, including professional logistics. Major steps were taken immediately in four months. Both in the MRA and Flevoland, many parties were connected and the partner network was activated. On 25 December 2019, Barbara Baarsma set out the necessity and future perspective of short chains in her essay “Can we eat more locally?” in the Parool newspaper. A serious perspective, also for the farm bank.
Parallel to this development, the Taskforce started in October 2019 to fulfil two tasks from the Ministry of LNV; 1) the development a blockchain tool to set up the burden of proof under new business models based on sustainability indicators, and 2) a programme for short chain entrepreneurs around three key themes; Logistics, Data and Multichannel.
In early January 2020, Local2Local in collaboration with Flevofood delivered the first 1,400 food bags for Rabobank MRA staff as a ‘pilot’. Local2Local, Flevofood and The Food supplied products, assembled bags and set up an activation campaign within the Rabobank MRA organisation. This was a great success. Packaging was done in cooperation with a care institution in Almere. The experience tasted of more, the route: continue the activation of business networks, combined with serving the staff.
The networks in Flevoland and the Utrecht region are also in the starting blocks. The first weekly deliveries to Utrecht University and some customers in Hilversum are a fact. A perfect start seems to be unfolding.
On March 1st 2020, preparations for the official launch were accelerated and parties agreed to put it down big by April 1st. Then Corona arrived. From then on, the whole dynamic changed.
To meet consumers’ and customers’ urgent demand for local products, Flevourbox was set up in collaboration with various parties. Local2Local (subsidiary of Amped) took care of the website, the administration and Local2Local’s logistics partner arranged the logistics in Almere. Nadia Zerouali, Eva Flantua and Bauke van der Veen realised the concept and content of the Flevourbox. More than 1,200 boxes found their way to customers who ordered online and to various projects. This was an action that dovetailed well with the Taskforce-funded campaign SupportYourLocalsNL. The Flevour Box was initially deployed for six weeks to see if the business model was feasible and to test whether there was enough enthusiasm and what specific customer wishes there were. Since then, the evaluation has taken place, the business model has been fine-tuned in collaboration with Local2local and Rabobank MRA, and the Flevour Box has been a monthly fact since August 2020!
Meanwhile, it became clear that the world will look different after Corona. The short chain is more relevant than ever and Local2Local, The Food Hub and Flevofood are pulling together with Rabobank MRA and the Taskforce to help where possible.
Rabobank Amsterdam launched the Farmers for Neighbours project with Studiezalen. Together with other parties, including Flevofood and the municipality of Amsterdam, healthy and good food from farmers in the surrounding area, who get a good price for it, is offered at an affordable price via a short chain to 80 thousand families in Amsterdam with a city pass who struggle to make ends meet every month. Bauke van de Veen is part of this project.
Mark Frederiks of Local2Local set up a collaboration for the Red Cross food emergency relief on behalf of the Taskforce (in collaboration with The Food Hub and Flevofood and their logistics partner). Every week, about 3,000 boxes containing 8 kilos of fresh food are assembled with the cooperation of care clients and transported. This operation was set up from scratch in 2 weeks. This is now a very efficient operation and working model. Local farmers from different regions supply produce. Both collaborations seem to be moving towards a possible future-proof model for the vulnerable in society.
The rollout after Corona
At the end of May, the 1.5m society began to unfold. Together with Rabobank MRA, the municipalities of Utrecht, Amsterdam, Almere and the provinces of Utrecht, North Holland and Flevoland, a good regional setting seems to have emerged in which cooperation is growing out of necessity. The online platform and logistics for the entire MRA, Utrecht and Flevoland are ready, combined with a professional boxing organisation that can put out up to 6,000 boxes a day. Several tens of thousands of kilos of products are delivered every week.
The transparent chain
Around Amsterdam and Flevoland, the first farmers are being added to the SmartShortChain platform. This creates the first data platform for short chains, where supply and demand find each other based on new value propositions.
In the coming weeks, we will resume our initial plans and for this, the Province of Flevoland has made a new commitment to support the plans. Together, The Food Hub and Vereniging Flevofood are picking up the Local2Local model and implementing it with a powerful network of partners, in collaboration with the Short Chain Taskforce. Local2Local takes care of IT, logistics, building the product portfolio, administration and together we focus on market activation.
Results for Flevofood:
- Part of EU cooperation in Smartchain H2020
- Part of TKK network, as regional representative of Flevoland
- Online platform connected to regions Utrecht, MRA and Flevoland
- Support for Flevourbox
- B2B logistics in set-up ready
- Facilitating organisation under construction
- Riding on the partnership of Rabobank Amsterdam and Local2Local
- Capitalising on partnerships of Local2Local
- Several hundred thousand kilos of produce sold
- Flevoland is one of the first regions to deploy SmartShortChain Blockchain
Results for Local2Local:
- A nice range of Flevoland products for regions Utrecht and AMA
- In time, a possible contribution to cover operational costs
- Contribution to Local2Local’s investments for upscaling in 2020
- Strong partner with future potential and a pleasant cooperation
Contact us if you like to know more about Local2Local and if you, as a regional cooperative, also like to collaborate on IT, networking, concept and market development.