A new online food store, aiming to offer restaurant-quality food to consumers, has launched.
Farmison.com, which has received the backing of former Asda CEO Andy Bond, offers quality seasonal foods via suppliers used by top chefs, including Michel Roux, Gordon Ramsay and Raymond Blanc.
The service, launched by business partners John Pallagi and Lee Simmonds, aims to appeal to ‘foodies’ looking for an alternative to supermarket offerings and has been delivering to customers’ doors for the past fortnight.
Pallagi explained to Retail Gazette that he and Simmonds feel they have identified a gap in the market with their new offering.
“Lee and I looked into how to enhance the shopping experience, and have built up fantastic relationships with British suppliers,” he said.
“Keeping products seasonal is so important to us and we try to have a very British focus. Of course, you are never going to get products such as bananas and certain cheeses from the UK, but if we do use produce from abroad, they must be the best.
“Our ‘Foodies Boxes’ include items from Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant that cannot be found in supermarkets. While some items are organic, we focus on quality and, while we try to ensure that our food is ethically sourced, we do not pretend to be completely organic.”
One of the company’s supplier is James Fanshawe, who farms 150 hectares of grassland near Naseby in Northampton, with 130 suckler cows and 200 breeding sheep. Pallagi and Simmonds first became aware of his work when ordering a cut of veal over the Christmas period last year. While the quality of the meat was, they felt, top notch, the ease of ordering and delivery service was lacking.
Fanshawe is now one of the key suppliers to the company and welcomes the opportunity to work with a smaller business.
“Start-ups like this are great,” he explained to this publication.
“When you look at companies like Tesco, which began a price war this week, it’s clear that their end game is to minimise competition.
“They are out to destroy the small guy in the high street.”
The company hopes to avoid such an outcome by broadening its scope in the months to come and has formed a partnership with a leading Goosnargh game producer to strengthen its Christmas offering.
While Farmison – which is short for ‘farm produce is online’ – is newly launched, the company enjoys the backing of leading industry figures, such as ex-Asda boss Bond.
Explaining his motivation for the project, he said: “I’ve always said that I‘d like to back small scale, or start up businesses, that show real innovation and this is really innovative.
“I also like to back people who have passion and a commitment to what they want to achieve – John and Lee show those qualities.
“Many of the products have not been available to the consumer market before (the high quality restaurant supply chain is largely separate).
“This will offer consumers something new and exciting – genuine Michelin start quality food at reasonable prices. It will raise the bar on delivering value through great quality, high provenance food.
“For years retailers have tried to claim they sell restaurant quality food. Well now for the first time consumers can have delivered to the door the food that many of the biggest chefs in the UK use. There’s always a place for new, innovative ideas, this is one.”
Simmonds agrees that giving the public access to good food is the main motivator behind the business model.
“We are giving people access to suppliers of top restaurants and we offer a rare variety of food,” he said.
“There is already a market for that; if you think of the success of the Marks & Spencer meal deal, which is aimed at a restaurant experience at home, we give people access to direct, physical restaurant produce.
“For us it’s about choice, letting people explore different types of tastes.
“We don’t want to be categorised as focusing on anything other than quality. We want to make people aware of our produce and to be stimulated by variety.”