Logistics for a thriving food hub
In Red Tomato’s early days, we owned (leased, really) and operated our own trucks and warehouse. We picked up the product, stored it, and then put it back on a delivery truck. After several years of trying to do it all, our team realized that the resulting wear and tear was actually limiting our growth and our effectiveness.
Our distribution plan now relies on farmers with storage capacity to aggregate products and we let third-party distributors handle the logistics of moving the product to its final destination. Our shift to this model has enabled Red Tomato to use the assets of our farmer and distributor partners – allowing us to focus on what we do best: sales, marketing, and product development.
Red Tomato is a nonprofit organization and a food hub. We are doing everything to solve aggregation and supply chain logistics problems to ensure the economic viability of mid-sized growers.
Food Hub Logistics “Plan A” – The Distribution Center Model
After closing our warehouse in 2003, we sought to deliver local produce in the most cost-effective manner possible. Working with several customers, including Whole Foods, we began to deliver entire truckloads full of apples, peaches, and tomatoes to their centralized warehouses.
By sending full truckloads of produce, we are price competitive, can pay our growers well, and offer a decent price for their hard work. We continue to work with Whole Foods, Roche Brothers, and others.
Food Hub Logistics “Plan B” – Direct Store Delivery
While Plan A is highly efficient, it doesn’t allow us to interact with the store purchasing team or the final consumer. Also, it limits the amount of produce we can sell!
In 2014 we began working with Kings Markets in New Jersey, Hannaford Markets in Massachusetts, and many others to offer over 50 different fruit and vegetable items.
Without trucks or a warehouse, we rely on distribution partners to make our deliveries. Our Direct Store Delivery (DSD) program allows us to deliver a wide variety of produce three times a week, June through November. Through DSD, we serve grocery stores, colleges and institutions, and even other distributors.