The food industry is ripe for a revolution. And while many companies have helped jumpstart the #realfood revolution by bringing in organic, there are few examples of food companies using business model innovation to spark scalable change. That’s why in this blog we are going to look at how BMi can be used to go beyond organic and reinvent our entire food chain.

Business Model Innovation – it’s the theme du jour these days on the blog as we start exploring ways to use it to shakeup some big industries. In our last post, we talked about a few inspiring BMi examples and shared some basic BMi strategies; however, in this post, we are going to get down and dirty, and take a look at how to sow seeds using BMi to bear fruit in FOOD.

+ Time for BMi – Business Model Innovation

When we think of companies that have really shaken up the food industry for the better in the last few years, the first company that comes to mind is Whole Foods. In fact, over the course of the last decade, Whole Foods has become the beacon for what we call the #real-food revolution. Thanks to their leadership, organic has become less of a hippy-homestead symbol and more of a food-conscious-family staple. Step into any Whole Foods store at lunch hour in New York City, for example, and you will see a construction worker entering in one door and a yoga teacher the other.

+ The #NewEraBiz in NYC

And yet, for all their hard work and commitment to reinventing the food supply chain, their business model is anything but innovative. They, like all other major supermarkets, have three key revenue streams:

  • grocery product sales;
  • eat-in market;
  • branded line of products.

Their business model is based on high markup and low wages; recently they have started to compete more with the mainstream market on price, but this is the model which has made them a tremendously profitable and allowed them to reach their current scale.

And while Whole Foods has had a tremendous effect on transforming the supply chain, shedding light on genetically-modified foods, and bringing real food back to dinner tables, it pales in comparison to the potential enabled by BMi.

What is business model innovation?

A business model is defined as the rationale of how an organization creates, delivers and captures value.

+ The Key Components of Business Model

Business model innovation is a process of reinventing the business model itself, rather than focusing on end-product innovation, such as technological, material, etc. This could include simple changes, such as pricing mechanisms, distribution channels or forging new partnerships. In the end, it only the model that needs to change, not the product itself.

How do we bring BMi to the food industry?

First of all, we need to know what the objective is. From our perspective, it’s the return of #realfood to the masses, and it goes far beyond organic.

In a marketplace that is dominated by ten major brands, and a supply chain saturated with GMO inputs (approximately 80%), we need to build a whole new stable of food companies who have both the brand and distribution power to take on the giants.

Graphic sourced from the Huff Post, and the article has 25K+ Likes …

As a starting point, there’s a target: to replace the ten mega multinationals – who strive for profitability at all costs – with a global network of real-food enterprises.

What can we do to tweak the business model to make this happen?

Looking at the business model of the typical food enterprise, it is pretty simple.

The primary cost drivers are inputs (ie. ingredients) and salaries, along with the cost of production equipment and facilities.

The primary revenue streams are product sales, whether through retail or wholesale channels, and for many prominent retail chains, franchising fees.

Click here to view the bigger image. Download the full PDF here.

Depending on the nature of the business, margins can range drastically, from razor thin in the case of most major supermarkets, to fat-cat juicy, as is the case with most premium products and brands. The major moneymaking factor comes through scalability – for retail products, it’s through global distribution, for cafés and restaurants, it’s typically through national expansion.

In the Market Beacons section of our #NewEraBiz research on Food, we highlighted several enterprises that are shifting the dialogue around the dinner table through their trailblazing efforts, including:

  1. The Peoples Supermarket
  2. LYFE Kitchens
  3. Real-Time Farms
  4. Credibles

+ A New Era of Business: FOOD

Beyond being innovative in their own right, each of these entities has used BMi to bring their business to the masses:

  • The People’s Supermarket uses a volunteer workforce to staff its store, and can therefore offer its products at a strong discount;
  • LYFE Kitchens is building a technological system, similar to McDonalds, to streamline and scale its all-organic fast-food offering;
  • Real-Time Farms charges a subscription fee to restaurants, caterers and grocers to use their crowdsourced farm and artisan guide;
  • Credibles has built on the crowdfunding business model and developed their own form of currency to help spur local food businesses.

On a macro level, we see three key areas of focus for sparking Food BMi:

Ingredients are the key cost driver in the food business; therefore, the key to being able to offer lower prices on organic (etc) products and compete against traditional GMO offerings is to focus on cutting the costs of ingredients.

While much of the focus is on expanding the organic (etc) supply chain through agricultural means, new collaborative models need to be developed to help bring down the cost using BMi.

Some ideas for this include:

  • Collaborative buying schemes, where multiple companies in the same industry build collectives to buy ingredients in larger quantities from growers and vendors
  • ‘Hacking’ to increase transparency in the market and shed light on the pricing structure and other variables in key input markets

Ex. Food-Tech Connect’s Hack/Meat Program

  • Open Source Product Development, where companies, suppliers and distributors work in tandem to bring new products to market.

There are already smaller derivatives of these types of ventures underway, as many entrepreneurs and food pioneers are already beginning to experiment in this space. The key is to remember that collaboration is more important than competition, and that the whole industry needs to be overhauled- there will be more than enough of this pie for everyone once the ball really gets rolling.

Technology is the great equalizer for small companies, and food is one of the industries where technology can be used to create scale and efficiency in ways that were traditionally only available to big companies.

Beyond ERP systems at the supply chain and inventory management level, companies can use technology to build rapidly scalable entities and connect across the ecosystem to source better ingredients, find new partners and enter new markets.

Some ideas include:

  • Operation Scaling, where companies such as LYFE Kitchens use the power of technology to add efficiency to production lines and save costs on menial staff labour;
  • Smart Sourcing & Data Mining, using sites like Real-Time Farms to find local producers and databases to find high-level information related to market, consumers (ex.% of the population who are lactose intolerant), etc;
  • Mobile Payment Applications to enable customers to pay more efficiently and reach a broader market, especially for single SKU companies and restaurant chains.

Ex. Sweetgreens salad chain partners with LevelUp to develop their own mobile payment app

Many companies already employ technology in small ways to help them become more efficient, but it is those who can implement technology into their core business model that will see the big results in the long term.

Getting products into key supermarkets and retails stores has always been the key hurdle for new food companies face. Up to this point in history, the strategy has always been to work with distributors and agents (ie. middlemen) and offer a percentage of sales made in return.

But in the network economy, companies can start to focus on reaching customers directly and bypass the middlemen.

Some ideas include:

  • eCommerce, developing a strong online business right out of the gates and making full profits on every item sold;
  • Networks, using social media and actively engaging with specific online communities to promote new products and special offers towards;
  • Mail, distributing a new product via registered mail

Ex. Graze in the UK delivers its weekly snack packs via Royal Mail

Rather than focusing on vendors and distributors, the new network economy will allow future businesses to build people-powered networks and kickstart their companies via online channels.

Overall, the food landscape is ripe for BMi on multiple different levels across markets globally. Those who can take advantage of network strategies to connect across the ecosystem, and build lean enterprises via BMI, will have competitive advantages that last for the long term. The time has come to stop picking the low-hanging fruit and start harvesting the bumper crop.

Have you seen any great examples of FOOD BMi?

PLAN – the Business Model

New York. New York.

Over the years New York has built up a larger-than-life repuation: from Broadway to Wall Street, the Yankees to the Juilliard, chances are if something big is going down, it’s happening in New York.

With that in mind, we recently headed there to see how the #NewEraBiz was blossoming in the Big Apple.

By #NewEraBiz we mean the new-era business, the one that’s designed to be open and collaborative in nature and make things move. The type of business whose collective spirit inspires others around it and ultimately helps form an ecosystem of brands and partners who are united by a common thread.

After doing several trips last year to explore a series of exciting new developments in the collaborative economy (yet to be defined), it was exciting to get back on the road and experience what’s happening first-hand.

If you have read any of our blog in the past, you will have maybe noticed that there are three key industries we have been focused on for industry-specific posts:

  • Finance: which includes crowdinvesting and the #NewFinance movement

+ The Redistribution of Dealflow

  • Food: which relates to organics and the #realfood revolution

+ A New Era of FOOD

  • Fashion: which relates to next-generation materials and #sustfash

+ Avant Garde: Moving Fashion Forward

Why these three?

Part of it is personal preference and part of it is collective importance. Of course there are numerous other exciting industries and important trends happening at the moment, but these three in particular really need to be redefined and reinvented before we are going to see real progress and ‘economic growth’ again.

That’s because everyone needs to eat (well!), (almost) everyone gets dressed in the morning and everyone needs to be bankrolled if they want to start a business. In a system where Big Ag dictates what we eat, Haute Fashion defines what’s stylish and Big Banks decide who gets money, you get big problems.

So what’s moving and shaking with the #NewEraBiz in New York?

FOOD is happening, and in a big way. It was certainly the focus on this trip.

#RealFood NYC

Whole Foods

There are several Whole Foods located in Manhattan (probably 5 or 6), all of them huge, and all of them are packed. The most reputable real-food market in the big-grocery business recently made headlines when they announced that all products in their stores would be GMO-labeled by 2018. Evidence that people are becoming increasingly conscious about what they eat can be seen right away when you walk into a Whole Foods in NYC:


While Whole Foods (many times referred to as ‘Whole Paycheque’) is great if you fit into the affluent-urbanite category, the reality is that the majority of people just can’t afford to pay those types of prices for their food on a daily basis. Which is why it is exciting to see Food Cooperatives (Coops) emerging in many middle-class neighborhoods. One in particular, the Park Slope People’s Coop in Park Slope, Brooklyn was full of everything you could imagine when it comes to real food – local produce, organic ingredients, whole-grain baking, etc. – and the prices on several items were about half of what you would find in a Whole Foods.

Coops function differently than traditional grocery chains. To be a member, and therefore purchase goods at the Coop, you must put in a volunteer shift every month and pay an annual membership fee. Thus Coops don’t pay the same labour expenses as a traditional grocery chain. They also markup their items at a fraction of what traditional chains would, and in many cases, depending on how the Cooperative is setup, will redistribute profits to the members.

The Coop structure is a very promising development in the #collaborativeco and something we will be researching in greater depth during the months ahead.

Outdoor Markets

Outdoor markets were everywhere. In Manhattan, in Brooklyn, everywhere. And they were packed, everywhere.

The reason for this is simple, as the real-food revolution is all about bringing the farmer’s food directly to the table.

Farmers and food vendors are able to take their product directly to the consumer, which helps the farmers cut out the middleman. From a consumer’s perspective, it is very reassuring to not only see the people making the food, but to hear their stories. In a world where food has been commoditized, among other things, outdoor markets bring everything back to earth.

The hallmark of the NYC outdoor markets is organic everything – from slushies to sandwiches – and an increasing array of biodiversity in crops like beans, tomatoes (heirloom tomatoes to die for) and others.

Artisan Vendors

Artisan is a buzzword that food-marketing mavens have definitely caught onto, so watch out. At the core, however, it relates to the craft of making or manufacturing the food to the highest of its potential.

One example is chocolate. Thanks to the whole industrialization and globalization of food, many ‘chocolate bars’ on shelves aren’t actually chocolate anymore. They have been cut with every filler, sweetener and artificial flavour imaginable and labeled chocolate bar. That’s why companies like Mast Brothers have come to fruition:

In the heart of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, they handcraft chocolate bars using the best beans from around the world.

Artisan is about bringing food from the source to you. So the story is a key part of every artisan vendor’s strategy – if they don’t have a story, they aren’t artisan. Luckily NYC is teeming with artisan vendors like Mast who are the real deal.

#SustFash NYC

After spending quite a bit of time Europe last year researching the New Era of Fashion, it was quite an interesting to contrast the action over there to New York.

+ A New Era of Fashion

While New York is a big and very important fashion market, they are definitely far behind Europe when it comes to ‘sustainable fashion.’

This can be seen not only in the lack of consciousness about #sustfash for the average New Yorker, but also by the lack of marketing initiatives on the businesses part, meaning it’s not top-of-mind for consumers (yet). After a long stroll through the Fashion District, there was very little evidence of any ‘sustainable fashion’ marketing and whatever we came across was put up by brands we were already familiar with. Certainly there are no brands targeting the young generation, a big missed opportunity, especially when you compare the ‘sustainable fashion’ movement to organic food.

On the other hand, there are many young artisan and upstart designers who are coming to market in the US with a ‘sustainable’ focus. Additionally, there are a few cool initiatives being done to knit together these emerging designers and give them more resources to move to market. Overall though, it looks like NYC has some work to do in the #sustfash market, especially compared to #realfood.

#NewFinance NYC

Only this year did we start writing a little bit about #NewFinance in the US.

+ Funding the Niche

That’s because the big story was, and continues to be, the rolling out of the JOBS Act, which will effectively legalize everyday Americans to make equity ‘crowd’ investments in early-stage American startups and small businesses – at least that’s what it set out to achieve.

Undoubtedly crowdinvesting is the future frontier for finance, but each country is taking their own approach to it. While the UK has focused more on a case-by-case basis (ie. Seedrs), the US has opted for a full-legalization approach, which is causing delays and a lot of ambiguity.

+ The Seedrs Report

Now many are saying that the JOBS Act is so watered down that it will be up to States to come up with their own regulations to legalize true crowdinvesting. Until something moves in one direction or another, however, the real stories related to #NewFinance will be happening outside of the Big Apple.


NYC provided a great opportunity to see the #NewEraBiz coming to life, in food anyways. To actually see and feel this change is very exciting because a of its magnitude, which will eventually flip ‘business’ on its head. The tides are turning and the Bull is no longer behind Wall Street.


  • While major fashion brands continue to plunder ecosystems and drive species to extinction to make designer clothes & handbags, we need to wear our values on our sleeves.

  • While major banks continue to hide behind their bodyguards and funnel money from public sources into private ventures, we need to put our money where it matters.

  • While mega food brands of the world continue to pump hormones and chemicals into our food and call it wholesome, we need to pull up our chair to a different table.

Because like Socrates said:

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

By focusing on the new, and truly collaborating, we can create a whole new era of business and make it an unforgettable journey in the process. It will take new business models, strategies and everything else, but there’s no use trying to pretend anymore that the old way still has legs.

The summer months provide a great time to chill out, sit on the patio and think things through. So take advantage because September, the time to start fresh, will be here in a heartbeat.

+ Time For BMi

PLAN – the Business Model

+ BMi Services

(Almond) milk on cereal for breakfast in the morning. A (bean) burger for lunch. A stirfry on (brown) rice for dinner. Topped off with some (fair-trade) dark chocolate and a glass of (sulphite-free) wine. Welcome to the new groove of food.

Thanks to an explosion of next-generation producers, a renewed focus on food education and a deeper awareness about food in general, the creation of an entirely new food ecosystem has begun. And this isn’t some hippie-driven hullabaloo, it’s a real-food revolution, and it goes beyond organic.

While there are no shortage of headlines in the news to show why certain parts of our food ecosystem need to be radically reinvented (ie. Ikea horse meatballs), there are deeper reasons as to why it’s necessary and why it is gaining traction so quickly.

It’s based on a need for diversity.

What do we mean by diversity?

Humans thrive in diverse environments. Regardless of the specific context, it’s a law that can be applied almost universally to every facet of life. We need to have choices (not too many), and to be able to have a set of choices requires diversity. Strip away diversity and you very quickly start running into problems.

And that’s where we are at today. We have a food system that is dominated by multi-nationals and agricultural giants (Big Ag). These major food companies have a bigger R&D budget for frozen pizzas than most market players would make in an entire year. As a result, there are ten multinationals who control the entire top-tier of consumer brands.

Graphic sourced from the Huff Post, and the article has 25K+ Likes …

Do these multinationals care about diversity and a well-rounded food ecosystem?


They care about sales and profits. After all, it’s not primarily for our benefit that they insert polyphenols and Omega 3’s into their products. And the sugar-free, fat-free and calorie-free offerings on the shelves weren’t developed to help people eat better. It’s all part of a diversion to make people feel like whatever they’re eating is great no matter what it is they are eating(!).

JIF, owned by J.M. Smucker, added anchovy and sardine oil to their PB so that you can get more Omega 3-s! Ironically, Smucker was part of an effort lead by Monsanto to crush Prop 37 in the US on GMO-food labelling.

And so instead of having a diverse food system where farmers flourish and consumers chow down on freshly-picked offerings, we live in a world where food is day-traded on world markets and sold in major supermarkets at razor-thin margins. Producers get squeezed, fresh products are sold at high premiums and Big Ag drives the agenda.

But all this is changing, and fast. The new groove of food has arrived. What started off as a small ‘organic’ movement a decade ago has now become a massive real-food revolution hitting all levels of the food chain.

Farmers implementing new (non-GMO) cultivation methods are experiencing amazing yields. Brands who may have begun their ascent into food markets as organic are starting to become household names. Mainstream supermarkets are expanding their natural sections at a rapid pace. And big moves are being made.

Last month, Whole Foods announced that they would require GMO-labeling from all of their suppliers within five years. What started off as a non-profit project (the non-GMO project) will now become a business requirement for any company that wants to list their products in North America’s leading natural and organic food retailer.

Transparent labeling. Whole ingredients. Supply-chain localization. Rather than it being a rarity that something we eat would be grown and produced naturally, it will soon become an expectation. And it goes far beyond organic; it’s about putting delicious food on the table that people don’t even need to question:

Did they use a lot of pesticides? Where was it grown? Is it GMO? Are the ingredients real?

Soon enough, these won’t be questions that circulate through peoples’ minds every time they want to purchase food. All information will be right on the label, and anybody selling food that isn’t organic, non-GMO and real-food certified will be shipping their products to Mars.

And those who get this will reap the rewards for decades to come.

Back in the fall, in our blog ‘A New Era of Food,’ we looked at a few enterprises who are on the edge of this movement:

+ A New Era of Food

These are the Market Beacons who, in our opinion, are moving the dial ahead at the top level. But every country, city and community has their own set trailblazers who are setting the new standard. Food has so much cultural and social significance that what’s considered a seismic shift in one region may not even register in another.

Of course there is a lot of work that needs to be done to increase real-food production, educate consumers and develop new products. But it’s happening, quickly. So throw on a pot of (shade-grown) coffee and grab a few (whole wheat) cookies, because the new groove of food is rolling into a town near you.

+ Time For BMi

PLAN – the Business Model

The New Era of Business reports are focused on the future of important industries and include examples sourced from around the world.

The New Era of Business begins – the walls of the insular, profit-driven corporation are falling and an open, demand-driven ecosystem is forming in its place. To commemorate the beginning of this occasion, we thought it was time to start writing about how to start shaking up the industries we love the most. As food is something that is so central in our everyday life, we picked it as the industry to write our first New-Era of Business post – it’s time to turn up the heat and spice things up!

Last week, while shopping in one of the mainstream Canadian supermarkets, we noticed something – one of the approximately twenty food aisles in the supermarket was titled ‘Natural Food.’ The thought struck hard – if this aisle is the Natural Food section, what does that make the other 95% of the food in the supermarket?

Problem #1: The majority of the ‘food’ that we eat is not natural

While pondering this troubling thought, we went to go pick up some apples from the produce section. Incredibly, the only apples that could be bought were shipped from another continent, this during a time of the season when local apples are ripening en masse.

Problem #2: Local production equates for a minimal percentage of the total

Craving more natural food, we went to another supermarket down the street. At this other supermarket, we were able to buy food that can safely be classified as natural, let’s call it whole food, and an abundance of local apples; however, filling up the shopping cart with ‘whole foods’ meant leaving the store with a significantly lighter wallet.

Problem #3: ‘Whole foods,’ or real foods, are more expensive than ‘non-whole foods’

With these three problems alone, it becomes very apparent that we need a radical shift in our food ecosystem. All of the examples used in this particular story are from Canada, but the underlying theme is visible in all the other parts of the world we have visited, just to different degrees. The world of food is dominated by megabrands (see the chart of who controls the food ecosystem) who care about one thing – the bottom line. The entire process, from the moments the seeds are planted in the ground to the moment we take the first bite, needs to be reinvented.

To jumpstart this process, we thought it would be good to look at our food ecosystem on three levels:

  • The Main Ingredients
  • Food Production
  • Food Culture

For each category, we will then look at a few counter trends and new ideas that we have seen or heard about during our travels around the world. At the end, we will list what we see as the market beacons, new businesses that illustrate where the market is headed, and talk about some simple steps to action and opportunities for collaboration.

Let’s start with the food itself.

The Main Ingredients

If we are going to begin to reinvent the food system, we need to know what we should be eating. The first step is to identify what foods we have enough of and which ones we don’t. By walking through most of the major supermarkets in the world, it becomes obvious that we are missing the main ingredients – real, fresh food.

To counteract this trend, there has been a lot of innovation in food from around the world. A few examples include:

the raw food movement on the West Coast of Canada

  • multiple grocery stores, cafes and restaurants have popped up that cater to this growing market. The food is prepared raw, as in uncooked, with the theory being that raw food is in its most nutritional state. Not that we are raw foodists, but if you have sampled any raw food you will notice that over and above anything else, the food is fresh;

Natural health products from Brazil

  • multiple products have appeared in supermarkets from around the world that come from Brazil. Coconut water, maté, acai, banana passa (ex. Ipanema Valley in Toronto) and a host of other products can now be purchased on grocery store shelves. Unlike most North American ‘natural health products,’ Brazilian products are shipped in a natural state (from what we have seen) – they are not cut with a bunch of sweeteners and substitutes or diluted down from their original state;

Other trends that are moving the dial, include a boom in the number of vegetarian and vegan restaraunts, the demand for organic (ie. pesticide free) products and the marked increase in dietary ailments (ie. diabetes, celiac, etc.) which have created a whole new line of diet-specific products (ie. gluten free, sugar free, etc.)

While these trends are good signs, they have yet to reach scale and be brought to a level where prices reach ‘normal levels.’ To hit this level, the next big shift needs to be in food production.

Food Production

Using the apple context, where it is easier and cheaper to buy an apple from a country across the world than from a farmer down the road, it becomes obvious that the whole food-production ecosystem is the opposite of the way it should be. Rather than creating a distribution system that caters to small-scale local production, we instead have one that was built for industrial global agriculture.

Of course big business would argue that this is the only way to effectively feed the planet, but at this point they have lost all credibility. We need to shift the production power back to the local producers and create an environment where global food distribution is reserved for non-staple foods, like chocolate and coffee. A few trends that signify the market is starting to move in this direction, include:

The boon in local farmer’s markets

  • Farmer’s Markets are growing increasingly popular around the world, as people start to reconnect with their food and look to buy straight from the source. We saw bustling weekend markets in Brazil, London and all over Canada, as people can’t seem to get enough of farmer-fresh produce and meats;

Local Food Coops

  • Members of local communities are starting to pool their money together and buy large quantities of local food from producers in advance in order to get better prices for the members of the community. These coops are non-profits run by volunteers, which helps to ensure that all the savings from group buy are passed down to the community;

Origin of Food Marketing

  • Many new products coming to the market proudly proclaim their local roots, as indeed local is becoming the most valuable adjective when describing food. It makes sense, as for something to be fresh, it has to be local. Naturally, there are problems related to misleading labeling and false marketing, which is where technology becomes a factor. The Localize initiative in Alberta, for example, creates a Local score from 1 to 10 and has a QR-code on the label (pictured below) for people to see a profile of the food producer.

Other trends include the creation of online local food networks, where local producers connect via social media to exchange information and host events, public campaigns against multinational agriculture giants (ie. #StopMonsanto) and creative projects like the Tiffin Project in Vancouver to help make it more affordable for chefs to buy local ingredients in restaurants.

It’s clear that there are many forces that are acting to restore local food production and encourage more businesses to source local ingredients. But it’s not enough, unless we start to change the way we talk about food and how we eat.

Food Culture – The Way We Eat

Every place around the world has its own food culture. In South America, it’s about eating with friends and enjoying life. In Europe, people love to take to the streets and catch up with friends at a local restaurant. In North America, people enjoy their comfort foods and favor convenience. Regardless of where you go, however, there are some similar underlying themes to the mainstream eating culture:

  • people have lost their connection to food – very few people know where their food comes from
  • people buy on price as a standalone factor – many people buy the cheapest food without analyzing other tradeoffs
  • people don’t ask questions about food – most people will not question anything about the nutrition or sustenance of their food

We need to change this culture and start creating environments where people feel good about the food they are eating and the people they eat with. Food should be a celebration, it should be communal and it should fuel us to do big things. Trends that illustrate this transformation include:

Community kitchens at the U of T

  • students at the University of Toronto coordinate, cook and serve vegetarian meals, all for a low price ($4). The only kicker is that you better get there early, as there can often be lineups out the door (ex. the Hot Yam (pictured below), the Harvest Noon);

Communal tables in London

  • many cafes and newer restaurants in London have communal tables to encourage people to eat together in a more communal fashion;

Serve the other person in California

  • at an Italian restaurant in Monterrey, California (not sure of the name), people serve one another to promote a spirit of interaction and portion control.

Other encouraging trends include, movements like the Slow Food Movement, food ‘activist’ chefs such as Jamie Oliver, and an increasing curiosity, especially in the younger generations, about the food we are eating.

Market Beacons

To illustrate the collective impact of all these trends, we have put together a list of four ‘beacons’ who we think illustrate where the food market is going.

The Peoples Supermarket – democratized food – London:

The People’s Supermarket is community-based supermarket with a mission to redefine the whole local-food buying experience. It functions as a cooperative, where members pay a 25 Pound annual fee and commit to four hours per week of volunteer service. Make no mistake though, it is for-profit venture, but returns are distributed back to community members in the form of discounts and price reductions. Every month, members attend an AGM (annual general meeting) to decide on aspects of the management of the business, while a Committee or Board makes the big-picture decisions.

The mandate of the People’s Supermarket is to provide people with local, sustainably-produced food at affordable prices. The founders of the People’s Supermarket saw a need to create a more vibrant, ethical and personal place for people to buy their food, while at the same time solving common supermarket problems, such as food waste, unmotivated employees, etc. In essence the People’s Supermarket has built a vibrant community of people around food and created a model for a new era of supermarkets. to read about the Secret Sauce The People’s Supermarket.


LYFE Kitchens – organic fast food – USA:

LYFE kitchens wants to reinvent fast food one brussel sprout at a time. LYFE (stands for Love Your Food Everyday) was founded by the former chief operating officer of McDonalds, Mike Roberts. According the (AMAZING) Wired Magazine article (click to read article):

“Lyfe’s aim is not just to build a radically sustainable, healthy brand of fast food. The Former Golden Archers hope to transform the way the world produces organic ingredients, doing for responsibly-grown meats and veggies what McDonalds did for factory-farmed beef.”

The first ‘prototype’ store opened a year ago, but the goal is to expand to 100’s of locations in five years. Expect to see meals with 100% local and organic ingredients, along with local beer and wine. They are bringing fast food from the dark days of frankenfood into a new era of freshness.


Credibles – crowdfunding local food businesses – USA:

Credibles is bringing crowdfunding to the local food markets, but with a twist. Rather than simply donating to a local food producer in exchange for a reward, contributors receive Credibles – a currency that can be validated at any of the local enterprises funded on the Credibles platform. Initially, the Credibles will be distributed as a printable coupon, but they will eventually be upgraded to a mobile currency.

The site is launching in Beta mode in the New York and San Francisco market that hopes to sprout a new-era food ecosystem using patient-money principles.


Real-Time Farms – Future Food Guide – USA

Real-Time Farms is a ‘crowdsourced nationwide food guide’ according to the site. It combines the power of the crowds with the passion for local food and provides a visual representation of local-food producers across the US.

On the Real-Time Farms site you can see locate local artisans, markets, farms, eateries and everything related to the local food scene. The site is an index for the next-generation of food producers, which prompted the Huffington Post to ask ‘is this the Future of Food Guides?’



Let’s kickstart this process. From what we buy in a given day at the supermarket, to what we order at a restaurant, to how we talk about food with our friends, it all makes a difference. But entrepreneurship is the real arena for impact.If you are looking to fund a food enterprise, think about crowdfunding (ex. below) and check out our research on crowdfunding strategy:

+ Crowdfunding Strategy – Summary

And remember, while organic+ is important, the real potential for shaking up the food industry lies in Business Model Innovation.

Are you making a move to shake up #RealFood?

+ Time For BMi

PLAN – the Business Model