Washington, DC - January 08, 2015
With sales of organic food products projected to grow by as much as 14% from 2013-18, big retail chains like Whole Foods continue to win market share and make hefty profits, while the organic label’s impact on restaurants has been harder to pin down. Partly, the problem is simple: when you purchase food at a restaurant, you’re buying an entire meal at once, not one ingredient at a time. Cooks at home may want their vegetables to be organic, but be less picky about paprika. Can a restaurant do the same, and call a dish organic even if all its ingredients aren’t certified? What if there were an easy way for restaurants to source organic ingredients and cover all their bases on each plate they serve?
BlueCart (formerly Improvonia), a tech startup with an app that simplifies ordering between restaurants and suppliers, has joined the Organic Trade Association (http://www.ota.com) to do just that. The app allows restaurants to place orders from all their suppliers at once, and makes labeling on vendor catalogs and price sheets more intuitive, especially when it comes to organic products. Using BlueCart, suppliers label their products electronically, so that restaurants can easily search, sort, and find organics when they want them.
“This is great news for consumers, restaurants, and suppliers,” says Jag Bansal, BlueCart’s COO. “Suppliers want to make ordering as easy as possible for their clients, and—as restaurants become more discerning buyers—that means offering the expanded choices in a simple format so that they can find what they need quickly. When all of that works well, consumers get what they want, and business is better.”
Mr. Bansal’s co-founder, Konstantin Zvereff, agrees: “Suppliers’ sales reps love that they can walk into a restaurant with the app and easily show off all their organic products to interested chefs.” The pair say proof of the potential is in the app’s rapid adoption rate among restaurant industry professionals across the DC area. “We wanted to get 16 restaurants on board in our first two months; instead, we got over 150. The growth is phenomenal. Restaurants and suppliers are both bogged down by old technology on the orders side of their businesses, and are looking for something to organize and simplify the process.”
With that many restaurants using the app–not to mention all their suppliers–the potential for expanding the restaurant market for organic products is exponential. The BlueCart (http://www.BlueCart.com) founders note that signing up to connect as a restaurant or supplier is as easy as downloading the app on an Android or iOS phone, which should make promoters of organic products very happy this New Year. “There is no cost to download or sign-up,” notes Mr. Bansal, “And there are never monthly fees, so it’s basically a no-risk way to give everyone involved a better tool for ordering organic.”