Scaling for Growth Program Helps Maine’s Surplus Crops Find New Markets
posted on February 20th, 2018
Greater Portland region farmers and food producers looking for additional markets for their surplus crops can now tap into new distribution outlets as part of the Scaling for Growth in the Portland Foodshed program. The initiative, funded by a $500,000 USDA grant, will introduce its new technology platform Spoiler Alert at the Maine Farm to Institution Summit on February 9.
The Scaling for Growth initiative is a three-year collaborative food systems infrastructure project which will place 2.5 million pounds of locally grown food crops into wholesale, retail, light-processing and value added markets. Spoiler Alert’s technology platform connects farms, food manufacturers, and wholesale distributors with new markets for their surplus or imperfect products. The system has been used in parts of the state as a platform for food donations and limited sales. Now, as part of the USDA Local Food Promotion Grant awarded to the Greater Portland Council of Governments (GPCOG), and supported by Hannah Semler of Whole Crops, Spoiler Alert and project partners will expand their scope into the Portland foodshed.
“Our goal is to capture value at each step of the food production process,” says Hannah Semler of Whole Crops. “By reducing on-farm food loss and engaging farmers at the post-harvest stage of production, we will strengthen local food distribution networks and explore an integrated approach to food access.”
Spoiler Alert empowers businesses in the food system to maximize profitability, sustainability, and efficiency. “In Maine, our priority will be channeling farm surplus towards retail businesses and value added processing organizations to help local food product reach end consumers. Spoiler Alert will help to better match supply and demand for this otherwise unsold food, facilitating new markets for surplus food throughout the supply chain.” says Ari Hopkinson of Spoiler Alert.
Spoiler Alert works with food businesses across the U.S., including 300 organizations in New England. As a partner to this collaborative project, with experts and food businesses helping to source, distribute, process and market local foods, Spoiler Alert will serve as the technology infrastructure. The project’s goals include reducing food loss by 20% and increasing local food consumption by 10% in the Greater Portland region.
The Scaling for Growth Food shed Project will integrate feedback loops that build more connectivity for the local food supply chain. The partners include:
- Spoiler Alert and Whole Crops: Surplus management
- Cultivating the New Economy: Logistics
- The Farm Stand, Portland Food Coop, Rosemont Market & Bakery: Retail outlets
- Fork Food Lab and Cyon Business Solutions: Processing solutions
- GPCOG and the Portland Region Food Foundry: Marketing and network development
Jamien Richardson of CYON Business Solutions, LLC and Hannah Semler of Wholecrops will give a presentation on Spoiler Alert and workshop ideas for the Light Processing Pilot to best meet institutional needs, at the Maine Farm to Institution Summit February 9th at the University of Maine Hutchinson Center in Belfast. Find out more information on the summit at www.mainefarmtoinstitution.org.
About the Portland Region Food Foundry: Founded by the Greater Portland Council of Governments (GPCOG), the Food Foundry is an alliance of innovative food industry entrepreneurs, investors, workers, and policymakers. The Food Foundry convenes industry leaders to initiate, develop, and expand the food production eco-system that has helped earn the Greater Portland region its national standing as one of the country’s premier “foodie” destinations. Find out more at www.portlandregionfoodfoundry.org
About Spoiler Alert: Spoiler Alert is a Boston-based technology company that empowers businesses in the food system to maximize profitability, sustainability, and efficiency. Spoiler Alert offers a collaborative, online platform and value-added services that enable measurement and tracking of food recovery initiatives; optimization of outlets for unsold product across donation, liquidation, and organic recycling opportunities; and reporting to document important financial, environmental, and social metrics. More info at www.spoileralert.com