Due to the COVID-19 social and economic effects, local producers have been heavily impacted by the B2B demand decrease. In parallel, end-consumers are even more interested in the convenience of delivery, especially for daily essentials. However, not even large supermarket chains are prepared to offer the convenience of delivery at the moment.

Based on the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) special report on coronavirus crisis, “transport restrictions and quarantine measures are likely to impede farmers’ and fishermen access to markets, curbing their productive capacities and hindering them from selling their products”. FAO is urging countries to keep their domestic food supply value chains alive and functioning, in order to avoid disruptions to the food supply chain []. As a consequence of economic and social changes caused by COVID-19, “nutrition is likely to be affected as people shift diets to more shelf-stable and pre-packaged foods (which may be less nutritious) and as fresh fruits and vegetables become less available due to panic buying and disruptions in food systems” [].

What it does

This project aims to deliver an app called “Rooty”, which is a bridge between local producers who offer fresh fruits and vegetables and end-consumers who are interested in receiving these goods at home. Fruits and vegetables cannot last 2-3 weeks, leading to the need of going to the supermarket on a weekly basis for many families. In addition, due to the potential disruptions in food systems, even large supermarket chains are at risk of not providing fruits and vegetables at some point. Through the app, customers can order fruits and vegetables from their local community, therefore receiving fresh fruit and vegetables every day and supporting local farms.

This project aims to tackle three sustainability pillars:

  • Social (for end-consumers as well as for the local producers and their families) · Avoid malnutrition through a balanced diet · Avoid immunity deficiency caused by malnutrition · Avoid frequent and unnecessary visits to the supermarket with a risk of exposure to the virus · Fresher products
  • Environmental · Less waste in the value chain · Protects local land and wildlife · Reduced carbon footprint
  • Economic · Support small and local producers financially · Support local workforce · Re-ignite circular economy

How WE built it

The business model focuses on support small and medium local producers whilst motivating balanced and nutritious nourishment for our community. Local producers will have to create a profile and will be responsible for the production, availability, and distribution of their products. On the other hand, end-consumers will also have to create their own profile to shop and track their orders.

Challenges WE ran into

Legal responsibility: our platform aims to bridge local producers and end-consumers. Local producers are still responsible for the provided product/service. Only producers with legal and commercial authorization to sell fruits and vegetables will be able to use the platform as a provider. We have to take measures regarding each country so we know the right documentation for farmers to move and distribute their goods.

Logistics: at first, each producer will be responsible for the order, from the order confirmation via the platform to the delivery, including the payment handling. We will review the possibility to work with courier companies in the future, creating our own delivery fleet, or creating franchises in each community, so we can deliver any necessary good.

Payment: in order to avoid physical contact, payments most be online. At first, the payment platform will be delivered by a third party such a Stripe. Producers must register the bank account in which we'll deposit by the end of the day the earning they made that day.

Accomplishments that WE’RE proud of

This idea will help people farmers who have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 crisis to mitigate the negative impact. On the other hand, ensure that end-consumers are safe and healthy at home, offering a convenient and social-responsible service.

What WE ARE learning

We realized that the first business project was good but we found a sector in the supply chain that was hit very hard because of this pandemic situation; the farmers and local suppliers. Because of this, we pivoted the idea and created Rooty to continue our idea to empower the circular economy.

We are still learning and discovering how to launch this solution in two countries at the same time (Portugal & Spain), considering market specificities and adjusting our business model to meet them.

Working remotely as a team has been one of our main challenge and also one our main "wins" through out this Hackathon (EUvsVirus).

What's NEXT FOR Rooty

  1. Build the back-end - Firstly, we need to integrate our front-end into a back-end to support the order placement and management for all users, including the integration with Stripe (payment solution partner). The solution needs to be flexible and scalable to cover different countries in the European Union and, potentially, other types of good.

  2. Put the marketing plan into action - We need to create impact in the locations that we have chosen to pilot our project (Portugal, Spain), so we can promote the use of our platform for agriculture groups, associations as well as to the customers to order fresh fruits and vegetables online.

  3. Add new features and improve the overall app experience for users.

  4. Develop a web version specific for farmers. Based on the average age of European farmer, we believe the app version might be challenging for some of them.

  5. After having the fruits and vegetables local producers up and running, we could see this app being used to trade different products that each community has (seafood, local crafts, and so on).

HERE ARE THE LINKS FOR OUR APP feel free to try it out []

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