London’s, “online ethical supermarket delivering locally produced, organic groceries and ethical home essentials directly to your door,” startup Farmdrop has called it a day, and in an email to customers, announced that its final day of deliveries concluded as of yesterday. Meaning, Farmdrop customers who’d placed orders for the Christmas feast are, literally, out in the cold.
Founded in 2012, Farmdrop raised a total of $41.8 million in funding over 8 rounds from 11 investors, including Atomico, and saw its last raise, a Series C round, conclude on the 28th of June 2020.
The announcement saw a mixed bag of reactions, with consumers generally sad about the news, while suppliers took a decidedly different tone.
Block Party CEO Tracy Chou expressed:
just got the email from my grocery delivery service @farmdrop that they weren’t able to raise capital and that they’re shutting down. what a bummer. i liked that they focused on local farmers and a better food system, but i guess that wasn’t enough.
— Tracy Chou (@triketora) December 17, 2021
Havas managing partner Thom James weighed in with:
Extremely middle-class tweet, but really disappointed @farmdrop is going out of business. Was always reassuring to know our weekly shop was coming from sustainable, ethically-sound suppliers and local sources. If anyone can recommend an alternative, hit me up
— Thom James (@ThomJames) December 17, 2021
And SuperAwesome CEO Dylan Collins adding:
Wow, Farmdrop has died. Loved the service but I guess margins must have been truly awful (even for this capital environment). pic.twitter.com/5DbvseW6gV
— Dylan Collins (@MrDylanCollins) December 17, 2021
However, a quick survey of the supplier landscape revealed reactions far less sympathetic:
Organic ice creams, sorbets, and fresh chilled custards maker Luscious’s Kate Clark posted:
London-based AgTech and FoodTech VC firm Forward Food Tech CEO Rob Ward commented:
Breaking news for @farmdrop it appears they have gone out of business. If true, absolute disgrace that they were still taking orders from small producers yesterday, knowing this was a possibility. @Merry_Meredith @NuffieldFarming @willpenrievans @Farmer_Tom_UK @FarmersWeekly
— Rob Ward (@1robward) December 17, 2021
And speaking of taking orders and not paying them, just hours before the official announcement, jam maker Single Variety Co’s Nicola Simons took to Instagram to plead her case:
View this post on Instagram
Interestingly, at the time of publication, Farmdrop’s website is still active, and a check revealed that I could schedule a delivery between 2 and 4 this coming Sunday. 🤔
Clearly, the startup had its fans and its detractors, but with the online grocery business and it's associated q-commerce vertical being red hot, perhaps the competition was simply too steep for Farmdrop to keep pace with? And if so, is this a foreshadowing of things to come and a warning to similar traders?
Update: Since the publication of this article, UK-based Tend, which is "on a similar mission to Farmdrop" (and makes deliveries every Thursday afternoon) reached out with commentary:
"Farmdrop were doing great things for farmers and we need more companies like them trying to build a better, more sustainable food system. Unfortunately, the way it ended wasn't great and many suppliers and customers have been left in limbo but this shouldn't stop people from trying to order direct from farmers and independent producers through other platforms. We need to support companies like this that are trying to shorten the gap between farmers and customers, ensuring farmers get fairer prices for their product, and customers get fresher, tastier, and more sustainably grown food."
Likewise, North Yorkshire-based sustainable online meat retailer Farmison & Co's CEO John Pallagi wants to ensure no Christmas feast is spoiled, "I’m sad to hear of the news from Farmdrop – not least because we know there’s significant demand from customers for better quality and higher standards. We have delivery slots available and we will do everything we can to step in to help any of their customers worried about their Christmas roast.”
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