It was with great sadness that we learned one of our biggest wholesalers, Farmdrop, ceased trading last week. We received an email late on Thursday night confirming that the company was going into administration: “operational facilities will close down tonight and will remain closed going forward.”
Not only did the shock closure mean that customers who were awaiting Christmas deliveries have been left in the lurch (they’ve been advised to approach their bank to ask about getting their money back), but it has also left a lot of small suppliers out of pocket – ourselves included.
We’re owed a four-figure sum. It’s hard-earned cash for a small business like ours, but fortunately isn’t enough to cripple the business. Our hearts really go out to fellow suppliers who had just delivered vast amounts of perishable stock to Farmdrop’s Bristol hub, for Christmas deliveries.
Jenny Linford’s excellent coverage of the closure highlighted Fosse Meadow Farm’s case. The Leicestershire-based business delivered 7 palettes of seasonal birds to Farmdrop on Thursday only to discover that they had gone into administration the following day – growing an-already substantial £6,000 debt to £36,000.
“All of us that supply Farmdrop with our food have a strong ethical view. We don’t grow for the money, it’s actually part of us,” said poultry farmer, Dan Mason, from Sladesdown Farm who relied on Farmdrop for roughly 50% of their turnover. “To think that we’ve put 6-8 months of work into that goose and to think that because somebody calls the account in, it’s sitting there rotting.”
Our relationship with Farmdrop had been a positive one until lately, when invoices stopped being paid. They supported us during our rebrand and move to a new warehouse, developed recipes using our spices and included them in their in-house meal kits. All little things which the ‘big player’ supermarkets wouldn’t waste time on. The company’s aim had been to connect consumers directly with small producers, artisans and farms – and it feels like such a blow to the ‘buy local’ and ‘support small business’ revolution, shifting even more power back to supermarket giants.
It wasn’t that long ago that the company, which was founded in 2014, secured £10 million investment (bringing the total raised to £20 million+). Though it’s disheartening to learn through publicly available Companies House accounts that Farmdrop spent £20 million over two years on administrative expenses. The email we received on Thursday evening explained that the company had hoped – but failed – to find a buyer, meaning: “with no further options available to bring capital into the company, Farmdrop can no longer trade solvently.”
While Farmdrop’s noble mission statement of “fixing the food chain” and championing farmers becomes a failed dream, companies like Gorillas (or Whoosh, Weezy, Fancy, Getir, Jiffy) – the host of on-demand delivery start-ups who will drop a bottle of gin and frozen goyazs at your door within 10 minutes – are having money thrown at them and becoming valued at billions.
There’s certainly a lot of talk about ‘mending broken systems’ and it being the ‘time for change’ – but out buying habits dictate where private equity invests. It speaks volumes that this slow food start-up has gone under, while those offering fast food and quick fixes flourish.
If you want to vote with your feet and support some of the companies left in the lurch by Farmdrop then please consult Jenny Linford’s feature (part of a list included below) and consider buying directly from these companies who now have Christmas stock to spare.
Fosse Meadows https://fossemeadows.com
Farm Haye Farm https://hayefarmdevon.co.uk