Austin’s Peach Digitally Connects Local Farmers to Restaurant Chefs

Xconomy Texas — 

Call it a virtual farmers market.

Two Austin entrepreneurs have developed a mobile app that they say will digitize the marketplace for produce, meat, and other food products grown by local farms.

“Chefs want to source more locally but they have no time to research, find these products, and connect to the farmers,” says co-founder Mario Barrett. “We want to be the 24/7 farmers’ market.”

The app, which is still in beta, so far has almost 80 users and features about 100 products—including eggs and lettuces as well as cured salmon and maple bourbon bacon—as it readies for a launch next month.

Digitizing how we cook and eat is a growing startup niche. Most of the innovation in the food space has so far addressed the consumer, one, that is, say, seeking out sustainable foods such as AgLocal’s online meat market or getting home delivery of locally sourced groceries through services like Greenling.

Peach is one of the first apps targeted to restaurateurs and chefs seeking out local foodstuffs, and could create a more networked future for what traditionally has been a fragmented and decidedly low-tech marketplace.

Peach’s founders say they have developed an order management tool that lets chefs can place orders for, say, 48 lamb chops from local producers. That sends a push notification to the seller that an order has arrived. The app is free as Peach builds its database, but co-founder Daniel Ehevich says the plan is to sell monthly subscriptions to buyers from $40 to $100 a month.

What Peach addresses could be called the F-to-R—farm to restaurant—market. The National Restaurant Association’s most recent survey of the 1,300-member American Culinary Federation found that local-sourcing and environmental sustainability rank among the top goals in menu planning for chefs. More and more diners are focused on their food’s provenance—where it’s grown and harvested. Which means chefs like Daniel Yates, executive chef at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel & Convention Center, are always on the lookout for fresh ingredients.

“I don’t have a lot of time to do research, sitting in the office,” Yates says. “For me, it’s helpful if I can be in the kitchen and pull out my phone, if we’re talking about a product, and find that product then and there.”

For chefs like Yates, Peach could be a real-time connection to farmers he would otherwise have to spend time searching the Web to find. None of the farmers Peach displays are within a close enough range to the hotel, Yates … Next Page »

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