Consumer demand is stimulating rapid change in the food system. Big food is losing market share to local food. Supply chains are in the early stages significant transformation, creating new opportunities for independent food producers.
Erika will discuss this shifting landscape, focusing on sales, marketing and distribution options for small farmers, as well as how to determine an appropriate scale and market focus based on both your personal and business goals – and how you can get there.
She’ll explore the benefits and challenges of both direct-to-consumer distribution models and food hub/aggregation models, with information about how producers can get involved with existing food hubs or launch their own.
She’ll also discuss the role of online platforms such as Local Orbit in the evolving food economy, and share Local Orbit’s vision to create the underlying supply chain infrastructure that supports local, collaborative and transparent food economies, with shared value for all participants.
Erika brings unique insight to this discussion, having worked with local food buyers, sellers and logistics providers across the country, with organizations that are growing, as well as organizations that are struggling or have failed. She has worked with more than 100 entrepreneurs in various stages of developing local food distribution businesses through Local Orbit’s Hub Camps localorbit.com/workshops. Erika also works with foodservice operators to integrate local food into high-volume procurement processes.
Meet Erika Block
Erika is the Founder and CEO of Local Orbit, the supply chain platform for people who are creating a new, connected food economy. Local Orbit enables institutions and restaurants to efficiently purchase from local farmers, food makers & aggregators, while maintaining complete supply chain transparency.
By enabling efficient, decentralized supply chains, Local Orbit saves money for foodservice buyers and enables them to meet customer demand for local, sustainably sourced food, while increasing market share for small and mid-size food producers.
Prior to Local Orbit, Erika co-founded and ran an entrepreneurial arts organization, producing cross-sector partnership events in the US, Great Britain and South Africa. She also co-created, directed and produced 15 plays. She led the renovation of a vacant building in Detroit into a theater, gallery and bar and worked with vendors to source local food for events.
Erika was inspired to create Local Orbit through a series of interviews she conducted for a project on the History of Eating. She spent time with people in fields, barns, warehouses, processing facilities, delivery trucks, kitchens, offices, cafeterias and restaurants. She talked to policy makers, business owners, food writers and nutritionists. And she identified the need for a platform that could support the new and evolving businesses and innovators who are transforming our food system.
She has also worked as a technology and business process consultant, focusing on strategic planning, collaboration, operational efficiency and communications strategy. Throughout her career, Erika has created collaborative environments that facilitate learning and action.
Erika is a graduate of University of Michigan, has an MFA from Columbia University, and studied Interactive Technology at NYU. She comes from a family of fruit peddlers, meat processors, restaurant owners and wholesalers. She is a PopTech Social Innovation Fellow. Other awards include Crain’s Detroit Business 40 Under 40.