A friend recently told me about a new website called Foodoro that is an online marketplace for independent food producers. She mentioned that Foodoro is selling products from some well-known food companies in the Bay Area so I decided to check them out. I also had a chance to talk with one of the founders, Jay, to learn a little bit more about them.
Foodoro is an online marketplace where people buy products directly from independent food producers (Foodoro refers to them as "foodmakers"). According to Jay, their goal is "to connect independent foodmakers directly with their customers" and it does seem like the website is geared towards that goal. Each vendor has a few paragraphs on what their focus is, why they make the food they make, and what makes their products unique. That's something I'm always interested in when buying a product from an "independent". Knowing what they're goals and attitudes toward food are helps me anticipate and focus on the texture, flavor, scent, or other aspect of the food that makes it unique. I always like reading this sort of information on the backs of product boxes and on menus of family owned restaurants, so I'm glad to find it as part of the Foodoro website.
Whether or not a site like this can survive (especially in this economy) really depends on the what products they have on their site. Since Foodoro just started and is based in the San Francisco Bay Area, most of their sellers are from the Bay Area. All of the food producers I saw on the site are small, independent companies - most of which I'd categorize as artisan food makers. This is great news for me, since I'm used to having access to a lot of these food products while I'm in the City (where I work) and in South Bay (where I live) and, in a few months, I'll be moving out of California.}?>
Some of the vendors that caught my eye were:
Donna's Tamales (Vegan / Vegetarian): I'm a fan of Donna's from my days wandering through the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market. The tamales are always a treat and, even though I'm not vegetarian, I really enjoy these handmade tamales (especially the Cheese Chili Corn Tamales which are available as part of a sampler pack).
Dee's Organic Mini Doughnuts: Apparently this is a fairly new company (I hadn't heard of them), that has created a unique product. They make mini cake doughnuts using all organic, premium ingredients like Dagoba chocolate and Meyer lemons. I remember eating mini cake doughnuts growing up, but it looks like Dee's is making the grown up version. Delivery is free, but currently limited to only the San Francisco Bay Area. (This is an example of where Foodoro needs to grow and either get a variety of specialty food makers across the U.S. or figure out how to ship foods like doughnuts without detracting quality.)
Gelateria Naia: This company uses local ingredients and hand churns gelato every Saturday before shipping it. They have a few retail outlets scattered around the Bay Area according to the store locator. I tried adding the 4 pints of the Gelato Cremes ($40) to the cart to see how much it would cost to ship. Surprisingly, it was only about $14.83 for delivery to Santa Clara; the price jumps to $46.51 if I want to send it to someone in New York city. It probably makes sense for Foodoro to find a bunch of gelato makers who can serve regional markets to keep shipping costs down. That way, it would be fun and relatively affordable to send some pints of gelato instead of flowers. One nice thing about Foodoro is that if you live near the artisan, you can find the closest store instead of dealing with shipping. For instance, I found out that I could get Naia gelato at their store in North Beach. It would be helpful if they put the store locator directly on the product page, however, because this feature is a bit buried. After I found the product page, I had to click on the Naia logo then on Store Locator. Not a big deal, but a Yelp-like map on the side bar would be welcome.
In general, Foodoro sports a very clean site design and emphasizes decent sized product photos. This makes sense given that they're trying to sell high-end gourmet food. Some of the product photography they have is quite good (Jay informed me that only some of the products are photographed by the vendors and the Foodoro staff takes most of the pictures on the website - I suspect that these good looking shots are taken by the Foodoro guys, but I could be wrong).
Here are a few pictures that caused me to click to the details page while I was running through the site.
Classic Pate de Fruit from Charles Chocolates
Gelato Cremes 4 Pints Collection from Gelateria Naia
Dee's Crazy 8 Mini Organic Doughnuts
Chardonnay Wine Jelly from Napa Valley Wine Jelly
Talking to Jay, I was led to believe Foodoro is about the same size as Fanpop (which is still just four guys including myself). I suppose that's one of the reasons why I'm so excited about what they are doing. They've managed to pull together several artisan food makers in the area and provide an online outlet (so I can get my Bay Area fix even after I move!). What I'm really hoping is that now that they've started, it'll snowball into a larger site where more and more vendors will be available and we can choose from various locations (perhaps try honey from Napa, Santa Cruz, Arizona, Texas, South Carolina, and New England). It's a good start so far and I'm pretty happy to see some vendors that didn't have online sales (at least I didn't know about it).
After my conversation/interview with the co-founder of Foodoro, he was kind enough to offer Cooking For Engineers readers a discount for Valentine's Day gifts. Just enter the voucher code CFE-VDAY to get 15% off any purchase from Foodoro.com until February 14, 2009.
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