FoodHub launches joint venture with Boston-based OR FoodEx
By Christina Williams
Sustainable Business Oregon editor
Portland-based FoodHub and Boston-based OR FoodEx will launch a joint venture to deliver local food to local plates.
Two ventures focused on local food — Ecotrust's FoodHub and OR FoodEx of Boston — are joining forces to address one of the biggest issues faced by growing regional food networks: distribution.
The partnership, announced Wednesday at the SXSWEco conference in Austin, will marry Portland-based FoodHub's online matchmaking expertise and the on-the-ground distribution logistics experience of OR FoodEx (the OR stands for Organic Renaissance, not Oregon).
Launching in 2013, the platform will facilitate online transactions between food producers and food buyers and tap into FoodEx's existing trucking infrastructure to make the deliveries and handle invoicing.
The new venture is seeking outside investment and while Ecostrust will remain a minority partner in the company, it will have its own board of directors.
Amanda Oborne, FoodHub's director, said the new company will build itself as a social venture.
Where the headquarters will be is yet to be determined but initially the two teams will continue to work in Boston and in Portland.
Oborne calls the joint venture an "ideal partnership."
"They have all these logistics wizards but they don't have the marketing and front-end development, which is all we have," Oborne said. "We make one nice complete team."
The joint venture's service is aimed at wholesale food buyers at places like universities and hospitals who are interested in sourcing local food but who need a reliable and efficient way to get it. The FoodHub/FoodEx system — the joint venture doesn't yet have a formal name —will be set up to keep the producer's identity attached to the product throughout the distribution process.
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