Locally-grown food business growing steadily
Company will open a made-and-grown in New Brunswick grocery store on June 11
A Fredericton company is proving the market for locally-grown food in New Brunswick is steadily growing.
Two years ago, Levi Lawrence, the owner of Real Food Connections, started the business that delivers locally-sourced food to customers.
Now Real Food Connections is expanding again. On June 11, Lawrence plans to open a made-and-grown in New Brunswick grocery store.
When he started his business, Lawrence offered weekly delivery of New Brunswick-grown food.
He said the business quickly took off and proved there is demand for what his business offers.
"And we exploded. In four months we managed to do $30,000 in revenue off a $3,000 loan, and it really proved the concept,’ he said.
Lawrence's experience has shown that the biggest question now surrounding the buy local movement in New Brunswick is whether he can get enough locally-produced food to meet the demand.
Lawrence has searched for farmers, who are willing to supply his business with local food.
He now has 82 food producers.
The producers are small and Lawrence said they are not growing at their full capacity, which can lead to selling out of products unexpectedly.
"They’re growing at what they safely expect to sell, for fear of wastage. They're not growing at any kind of capacity," he said.
"Every time I sell out months before I should be sold out, they know that the next round, season, they can grow more, safely."
The success of Real Food Connections is also helping small food producers in the province.
Heather Rhymes, the co-owner of Gagetown Fruit Farms, said Lawrence's business has made a difference to her bottom line.
Rhymes said it also allows her to expand into other products.
"We do a lot of ‘value-added’ things for him, like you saw the biscotti and the cider, and that type of thing," she said.