Collectiv Food, a young and fast-growing food supplier to restaurants and other professional kitchens in London, is helping the capital's foodservice sector to bounce back in the post-lockdown era.

The company has achieved a significant increase in trade since April this year when its business, along with many in foodservice, was severely impacted by the lockdown. The expansion of its customer base even at the height of lockdown has been possible thanks to its innovative business model, based both on the direct relationships with food producers and on its greener delivery model. 

Its direct sourcing practices provide clear resilience in the supply chain together with full transparency on provenance and quality. This direct-sourcing model has meant that Collectiv Food has been able to pick up new business where others have been unable to deliver, as some food suppliers struggle to secure produce due to delays in payments up the chain.  

One example of this has been The Good Life Eatery, a healthy food business, which was attracted by Collectiv Food’s speed, efficiency and the competitiveness of its service. "We were let down by our usual meat supplier and were left to source chicken on our own at very short notice," says Good Life Eatery’s product manager, Wladimir Campos. "Luckily we found this new supplier, Collectiv Food, who could deliver the right quantity of organic chicken by the next day. They came across as reliable and customer-focus so we enquired about other product lines. They hit the mark on price and quality, and we started placing regular orders the week after that first rushed delivery."

The Good Life Eatery also introduced Collectiv Food to their business partners: "We've been sourcing two chicken lines, thighs and wings, and halloumi from Collectiv Food since the beginning of June," says Neil Honeysett at food manufacturer Sticky Fingers Food. "We've found their products more price-competitive than our previous suppliers. We’re securing good savings with the added value of immediate dedicated support when we need to amend orders due to changing customer demand. We're looking at expanding our orders with them to include more raw ingredients as demand builds again and our business grows."

Alongside cost competitiveness, Collectiv Food is supporting food businesses with flexible payment terms. For foodservice companies with the appropriate credit history, payment can be extended up to 90 days. This offer is rare in the F&B sector, which is typically regarded as financially high risk and therefore challenging for credit insurers to service. 

Attracting new investors

The impact of Collectiv Food on London’s food supply sector is attracting new investors. Spotting an opportunity to participate in the re-birth and digitisation of the foodservice industry, a number of investors have provided new venture funding to the business, even during lockdown, as the direct-to-producer sourcing and food supply chain automation model proves a compelling proposition.

And as sustainability rates highly on the agenda for many food businesses coming out of lockdown, Collectiv Food's focus on reducing carbon emissions arising from deliveries is appealing for both customers and investors.

Mustard Seed is a venture capital firm specialised in supporting organisations that deliver social and environmental impact. “Foodservice is a vital industry, and the 4th biggest employer in the UK,” says Alex Pitt, Co-Founder at Mustard Seed. “It’s in everyone's interest to make sure this industry has the best tools available to recover as soon as possible. This is why we have invested in Collectiv Food: their food supply model is both commercially smart and sustainability-focused, an original proposition in this sector.”  The company is patenting a new delivery model that will take big lorries off the road by using empty capacity in smaller vehicles already making journeys in and around London, particularly during daytime.

Jeremy Hibbert-Garibaldi, Collectiv Food’s founder and CEO, says, "We are doing everything we can to help London's food businesses get back on their feet. The effects of this pandemic and lockdown will not disappear anytime soon, but we are confident that this is an opportunity to explore new ways of doing business - more future-looking, sustainable and fair. We're excited to be the pioneers in food supply in this new normal."