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Fresh Fork Market

November 30, 2008 - Phyllis Sigal
Just before leaving for a food tour of Cleveland earlier this year, I was contacted by Trevor Clatterbuck, a Wheeling Park High School graduate who has been involved in starting an interesting business called Fresh Fork Market. Fresh Fork Market connects local farmers with potential customers in the Cleveland area.

Trevor grew up in Wheeling and is a 2004 Wheeling Park High School graduate. He attended Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. During college, he worked as a procurement specialist and marketing intern for Hyland Software in Westlake, Ohio, and then as a business analyst for Deloitte Consulting in Charlotte, N.C., where he worked on a large SAP (software) implementation. He graduated from Case in May 2008 with a bachelor's degree in business management and in political science, with minors in entrepreneurship and economics.

What follows is my Q & A with Trevor:

Q. What is Fresh Fork Market?

A. Fresh Fork Market is a supply chain solution connecting local farmers with restaurants, retailers and institutions. We provide a virtual farmers market where suppliers, customers and other advocates can network, collaborate, shop, eat and repeat. Our marketplace is free of use to both buyer and seller.

In short, we provide the tools necessary for a local farmer to communicate and deliver to a customer. However, our business is still in the development stage and we do not operate as stated above. We have a two stage model. Stage 1 is our proof of concept — what we are doing now — where we actually deliver the product from the farm to the restaurant and act more like a distributor. In our Stage 2 model, we are simply the local foods marketplace — think of an eBay for local foods, except we tackle the problem that eBay does not address — logistics. We provide the tools necessary for farmers to arrange logistics around a perishable product.

Currently, we have been operating our Stage 1 model — where we deliver the product — for four months and have acquired 54 customers and deliver from over 40 farms.

Q. How and why did you start this venture?

A. I started this venture with three other partners. The four of us were at a business concept competition in August 2007 called the Entrepreneurship Education Consortium. We were walking around Downtown Cleveland to get some inspiration and recognized that there were a few restaurants advertising “local” products. We asked the chefs and they said it was very difficult to use local products. I had a similar experience when living in Charlotte, N.C., that same summer. We put the two experiences together and realized that there must be a need. We did surveys of both farmers and restaurant owners and soon came up with what we thought was the best solution.

We won the concept completion that week and returned to school and decided we wanted to continue with the business. We held weekly meetings and organized our tasks and by June 2008 we were ready to launch.

Q. How many clients do you have?

A. We have delivered to 53 restaurants and one institution.

Q. Which restaurants utilize Fresh Fork Market?

A. Some of our best customers include: Lola, Lolita, Flying Fig, Great Lakes Brewery, Grovewood Tavern, Beach Club Bistro, Lucky’s Café, Molinaris, Sara’s Place by Gavi’s Gavi’s, Sergios and Light Bistro.

Q. What makes Fresh Fork Market unique? Are there similar ventures?

A. Fresh Fork Market is unique because it preserves the culture of a local foods system. Customers can contact the suppliers directly through the Web-interface. They can read about the farms, read about the products, see photos and even know the number of miles from that farm to the restaurant’s front door. We want to put a face on the product.

There is one similar venture, actually in Cleveland as well. It is called Local Crop and promoted by the multinational foodservice provider, Sysco. The service provides similar online ordering capabilities. Local Crop was started two months after Fresh Fork.

Q. What are you most proud of with Fresh Fork?

A. I’m most proud that we actually followed through on the concept we developed. I was so energized about the concept that it was not difficult for me to turn down major job offers I had.

Q. What are the benefits for chefs to use your service?

A. For the chefs it is simple. They get the highest quality products at a reasonable price.

Congrats to a local student on his success! (Check out my "Taste of Cleveland" story on the Travel cover in the Nov. 30 Sunday News-Register.)


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