A DISTRIBUTION company has been set up in Ipplepen to help South Devon food and drink producers get their goods to market.
Westcountry Direct has been set up by David Sutheran and says his company promotes the green mile by reducing the carbon footprint of producers.
It also enables producers to spend more time making the product while delivery is taken care of. Producers also benefit as delivery costs are flexible during seasonal down turns and raw materials can also be picked up en-route, reducing back haul costs.
David said: "I set up the company with the primary purpose of building a dedicated distribution network throughout the south west for food producers. While I was the sales manager at TNT in Exeter, I had a lot of contact with local producers of food and drink products.
"I noticed they had issues getting their goods to market because they did not have enough time to make and distribute the product and using couriers was expensive because of low weekly or monthly volumes. Only local geographical coverage was permitted because of time constraints and many had a lack of knowledge of other market places.
"We care passionately about getting products to market. Part of our ethos is to promote green miles and reduce the carbon footprint of our producers.
"Imagine how many deliveries are made weekly in half-empty vans by local producers to farm shops or delis. We aim to reduce the number of empty deliveries by promoting a single drop option for multiple producers.
"While we are delivering we can promote businesses, drop off samples or arrange tasting days. As well as this, we offer free use of our website for direct promotion of their websites, again opening up new markets to them that they previously were not part of."
He added: "As part of our distribution arm, we offer a 'wheels only' service. This means the producer has a variable cost for distribution. It works by identifying where there are a collective of producers going to the same address, farm shop, deli, retail outlet etc. and offering them our services.
"It's then a win/win for all involved. The producers get products delivered, the outlet gets less deliveries and, therefore, less downtime for staff having to unload. Where we identify new markets from places we already deliver to, we then report those back to the producer and hopefully they will win more business for us to deliver to next time.
"In short, we can be the conduit for cottage industries and SMEs to realise growth potential and support them in new routes to market.
This year, it will be offering regular routes to Bristol, Bath and London and also a chilled distribution service.
Jennie Beardsley from JB Preserves said: "I never realised how much time I spent delivering my produce until I asked Westcountry Direct to do it for me. It leaves me to do what I love best, create more delicious preserves."
Peter Baldwin, director of Cottage Confectionery Ltd, said: "We have benefited greatly. Not only has it freed up an extra day so we can produce more, but while making deliveries, David promotes our business to customers we are not yet supplying."