Fine Food Angel

A new online fine food ordering service that charges “10 to 15 times less” than traditional wholesalers has been launched.

The Fine Food Angel connects independent retailers with artisan producers by “cutting out the middleman”, according to founder David Mack.

Aimed at farm shops and delicatessens, the free service for retailers, Mack said, also allowed stores to “gain full access” to a producer’s full range of products that are not “constrained by the size of a warehouse”.

“We are not here to replace wholesale and couldn’t if we wanted to,” said Mack.

“But retailers, farm shops, and delis are starting to suffer slightly from the ‘clone store syndrome’. All of those guys are stocking the same products. So you could find a farm shop in Sussex and Scotland stocking the same products and all looking the same, which is not ideal from a retail point of view.

“The nice thing about The Fine Food Angel is we are able to help retailers differentiate themselves by offering exciting and unique products.”

Some 15 retailers, including Sussex Farm Shop of the Year Cowdray, and 45 artisan producers, have already signed up to the service following a soft launch last month.

Mack, whose wife Emma founded breakfast cereal brand Purple Patch, decided to set up the business due to the high costs associated with getting a product into the hands of the consumer.

“We figured we could help both the retailers and producers overcome that issue and gain the benefits,” he said.

The automated system has been developed to operate on a 2% micro-margin to “help producers earn a fair profit”.

Products are delivered using couriers to lower the 25%-30% margins wholesalers use, added Mack.

And though the company has plans to delve into the foodservice market, Mack said he could never foresee a time when The Fine Food Angel would offer its own delivery service.

“That’s not what we’re about,” he said.

“In the longer term we would look to push all business through a single courier so retailers would find their deliveries get fewer. At the moment we can’t guarantee all deliveries come together, but I’ve not heard from any retailer that multiple deliveries are a terrible issue.”