By Bob Shallit The Sacramento Bee.
A fast-growing farm-to-fork food delivery company is making its first inroads in the Sacramento area.
GrubMarket, a Bay Area-based firm that calls itself an "online farmers market," began quietly lining up vendors and consumers here a month ago, following rollouts in seven other U.S. cities.
How it differs from other online food vendors: Its drivers go to farmers markets to pick up products -- from produce to goat's milk and cheese, from grass-fed beef to baked bread and brownies -- and take them directly to customers in refrigerated vans.
There's no in-between storage of any products in warehouses.
"That way, the food is always fresh," said Mike Xu, a 37-year-old entrepreneur who started the business in Novato last year with $2.1 million in venture capital funding.
Since its start in the Bay Area, GrubMarket has expanded to Southern California, Portland, Detroit, Denver and Chicago. The goal, according to Xu, is to have 15 U.S. regions served by the end of the year, with annual sales of $18 million. Sales now are at about $6 million, he said.
Sacramento is the newest city in the GrubMarket network and is being handled by a single employee, Jodi Guevara. She has been signing up local vendors, building a website and making initial deliveries to a handful of customers in the region.
The site, grubmarket.com, includes about 20 local vendors, such as Ms Mindy's Sweet Treats from Roseville, Massa Organics in Chico and Freshway Fish of Loomis.
"So far, so good," said Jeremy White, an exec with Freshway, about his company's early experience with GrubMarket. His company, like most others on the website, sells almost exclusively through farmers markets.
Under the company model, consumers pay no delivery charges for orders over $25. Prices are comparable with those charged at a farmers market, the company says, with GrubMarket taking a commission of between 20 and 25 percent on each transaction.
"We cut out the middleman, increase farmers' margins and consumers get better quality food," Xu said.