Could Takestock Become an eBay for Surplus Produce?

European Market

Waste is one of the biggest perils of the fresh produce industry‭. ‬Trying to find a home for excess stock and unwanted produce before it’s condemned to the landfill is one of the sector’s primary headaches‭.‬ ‬is a digital market for the food industry focused on surplus inventory‭, ‬ingredients and WIP‭ (‬work in progress‭) ‬inventory for private label manufacturers‭. ‬Based in London‭, ‬the online trading platform makes it easy for owners of stock to sell their unwanted‭ ‬items and to find a buyer efficiently rather than turning to scrap as an option‭.‬

Produce‭ ‬spoke to Campbell Murray‭, ‬founder and chief executive‭, ‬about Takestock’s aims‭, ‬its motivation and why the app makes perfect sense for the fresh produce sphere‭.‬

Q‭. ‬What are your aims‭?‬

A‭.‬‭ ‬Every year in the United Kingdom‭, ‬more than 600,000‭ ‬tons of food is sent to the landfills within the food manufacturing industry‭. ‬This is worth around‭ ‬£1‭ ‬billion‭. ‬Farming and fresh produce adds another‭ ‬£4bn in lost value‭. ‬While a lot of that does have value‭, ‬it’s in the wrong place at the wrong time‭. ‬We provide a platform for this to be reduced‭.‬

Q‭. ‬How does it work‭?‬

A‭.‬‭ ‬If a grower or trader has surplus product‭, ‬he/she signs up on the system‭ (‬which is free‭). ‬Once registered‭, ‬he/she can list an item‭ (‬for free‭) ‬‮—‬‭ ‬this is a simple process of uploading photos and information‭. ‬The seller stipulates the minimum quantity he/she‭ ‬wishes to sell and declares the price per unit‭. ‬The price is designated as ex-depot or transport-included‭ (‬the site does provide some hauler options‭). ‬The product is then live on the system for other users to see‭. ‬We alert buyers who have expressed interest in an item previously‭.

Once an offer comes in‭, ‬the seller is notified and has the option to decline‭, ‬accept or counter bid‭. ‬After an offer is accepted‭,‬‭ ‬the buyer pays into our escrow account at Barclays‭. ‬Once goods are signed for‭, ‬the buyer has 24‭ ‬hours to raise a dispute‭. ‬If we‭ ‬are not notified‭, ‬it is presumed all is good‭, ‬and we close the sale‭.‬

We charge the seller 15‭ ‬percent of what he/she receives‭, ‬plus VAT‭ (‬value added tax‭). ‬For the fresh produce category‭, ‬we offer a‭ ‬subsidized rate of 8‭ ‬percent commission‭. ‬This reflects the lower margins and hopefully‭, ‬repeat nature of the sector‭.‬

Q‭. ‬How has it been received in the industry‭?‬

A‭.‬‭ ‬We have had more than 26,000‭ ‬unique users and more than 1,000‭ ‬active registered companies use us‭. ‬We also work with some of the‭ ‬big supermarkets that see us as a partner to assist their suppliers‭. ‬The Department for Environment‭, ‬Food‭ ‬&‭ ‬Rural Affairs‭ (‬DEFRA‭), ‬environmental consultancies‭, ‬thought leaders and venture capitalists who target this sector have all taken interest in what we are doing‭. ‬Broadly‭, ‬there are three categories of buyer‭: ‬independent manufacturer‭, ‬caterer/restaurant and food trader‭. ‬

Q‭. ‬Why fresh produce‭?‬

A‭.‬‭ ‬Fresh produce is the most searched-for category on Takestock‭, ‬and we know there is a strong market of buyers out there keen to‭ ‬trade directly with growers and distributors‭. ‬The farming sector in the U.K‭. ‬can often enjoy a strong harvest with high yields‭. ‬That means a lot of surplus produce will end up in animal feed or landfill‭. ‬Takestock helps farmers reach the marketplace direct‭, ‬especially to food distributors‭, ‬caterers‭, ‬niche food manufacturers and the hospitality trade‭.‬

Q‭. ‬So is it an eBay for the food industry‭?‬

A‭.‬‭ ‬Before eBay‭, ‬selling the clutter from one’s garage was a challenge with a small number of local buyers at best‭. ‬Now a national audience can be reached in seconds‭. ‬We believe this is the same for the food industry‭, ‬and the solution to distribute unwanted food stock is Takestock‭. ‬We are not an auction site but more an offer-based brokering service‭. ‬

Q‭. ‬Have you worked alongside wholesale markets‭, ‬individual growers‭, ‬or both‭?‬

A‭.‬‭ ‬It started as a digital marketplace to move surplus stock‭, ‬but it is becoming a new sales channel for people who want to market‭ ‬their product further afield‭. ‬

Q‭. ‬Who does it appeal most to in the fruit and veg sector‭?‬‭‬

A‭.‬‭ ‬Growers‭, ‬wholesalers and market traders from a selling perspective‭; ‬from a buying perspective‭, ‬independent retailers and caterers‭. ‬It’s about giving the farmers a chance to reach a bigger market and fresh produce traders to widen beyond physical footfall‭.‬

Q‭. ‬How many users do you hope to have‭?‬

A‭.‬‭ ‬There are roughly 100,000‭ ‬food outlets and companies in the U.K‭. ‬and about 1‭ ‬million across Europe‭. ‬We would like them all to be on the site‭, ‬naturally‭.‬

Q‭. ‬What does the future hold for Takestock‭?‬

A‭.‬‭ ‬We want to become the B2B trading platform for the food industry end-to-end‭. ‬We are U.K‭.-‬focused‭, ‬but attracting international‭ ‬customers‭. ‬The sheer size of the food waste problem means there is a great opportunity for an efficient marketplace to enable sellers and buyers to trade easily‭.‬

Campbell Murray is a seasoned tech sector executive with previous director level roles at Vodafone, Intuit & Bazaarvoice.strong>