Colorado Springs-based online surplus food wholesaler FoodMaven is launching a retail operation in Colorado Springs and Denver after sales to restaurants and institutional customers fell sharply in the wake of closure orders to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
FoodMaven CEO Ben Deda said the company Tuesday plans to start selling a limited selection of fresh food from its warehouse at 3610 N. Stone Ave., in Denver.
The local warehouse will be open from noon to 4 p.m. weekdays; customers can go to foodmaven.com/foodmaven-warehouse/ and order online for delivery/pickup or make their orders at the warehouse, where the items will be brought to their vehicles, he said. The company has an initial selection of eight to 10 items, ranging from kale and shallots to beef and chicken, and can make cash or credit transactions.
“We started talking about this two weeks ago, and at that point we hadn’t seen the shift from restaurants to retail sales, but we knew it would happen,” Deda said. “We have been making a lot of deliveries to retailers because of the strong demand, but no so much with restaurants, where there has been a large drop-off in sales. We hope to add mobile retail soon, since we have have a fleet of refrigerated vehicles available.”
FoodMaven also is launching the service to help dispel public perceptions of a food shortage. Supplies are plentiful, Deda said, though supply chains aren’t set up to accommodate the huge increase in demand that has come with the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The new retail program is designed, he said, to “connect with people (in the three cities) who want fresh food.”
FoodMaven expanded into the Dallas area just last week, when it acquired Jana Food Services, which operates a 100,000-square-foot warehouse in Arlington serving customers that include halal/zabiha markets, convenience stores, and ethnic shops. The company sells frozen foods, dry goods, fresh meats, paper, plastics and janitorial supplies.
FoodMaven last month formed a partnership with Denver-based Ardent Mills to sell its specialized wheat flour to FoodMaven’s customers. The flour comes from farmers as they convert their wheat crop to certified organic.
FoodMaven grew out of a food rescue group started by a Colorado College student. That idea grew into what is now an online marketplace that sells surplus food bought from grocery stores and food distributors to more than 300 restaurants, institutional kitchens and commercial food-preparation businesses along the Front Range and the state’s mountain resorts.
The company eventually wants to expand to other cities.
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