5/29/14 – This guest blog is written by Nick McCulloch, co-founder along with Cameron Marlin and Rachel Ostwald of Fresco de Dentro. All three co-founders are currently in Brazil conducting market research and testing their business model as part of their summer practicum for the Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise MBA program at Colorado State University.
Fresco de Dentro has a multi-sided business model: We seek to connect urban farmers, who lack access to the formal market, with consumers interested in buying high-quality, local, and sustainably-grown produce. This business idea was inspired by our observation of the growing strength of local foods systems in the United States. Desiring to see similar changes elsewhere, the Fresco team looked to Brazil as an ideal location for our business to succeed.
Recent years have seen the Brazilian government invest substantial resources in the development of a growing number of urban agriculture initiatives aimed at reducing food insecurity among urban populations. Though these programs have increased the overall production of locally-grown produce, the market structure has remained largely the same: An overwhelming majority of produce sold in urban markets originates in areas far away from the cities, leaving urban farmers with a very limited number of commercial outlets. Their only access is small, niche organic fairs.
Fresco has a solution to this problem: A mobile market.
A mobile market is a business on wheels, or in our case, a produce stand on wheels. Rather than tying us down in one physical location like a brick and mortar store, we can adjust our location to best address the needs of our customers. A recent poll conducted by EMATER, a governmental department dedicated to agriculture, revealed that Brazilian consumers prioritize convenience above all else in their purchase of produce. Unfortunately, our supplierslack access to a mode of transportation that would allow them to move large quantities of fruits and vegetables to the most convenient locations in order to satisfy their customers. This is where Fresco de Dentro provides value: The mobile market allows us to accommodate our suppliers’ limitations, allowing them to sell higher quantities at a time, reducing their spoilage, increasing their revenue stream and, ultimately, allowing them to grow their operations.
The mobile market isn’t just good for our customers, though; it’s also good for our business. By operating in a mobile manner, we not only increase the number of suppliers and buyers we can reach, but also increase our inventory turnover (reducing our holding time), allowing us to buy and sell large amounts of produce more frequently while reducing our costs, all without ever compromising on the freshness of our product.
The Fresco team is currently conducting market research in Brazil, interviewing local farmers, governmental officials, and business owners. You can follow the status of our trip at www.frescodedentro.com, or like us on Facebook, where we regularly post trip updates.