Based on a successful version of the service that has been running in the UK since 2007, Organic Assistant is a web portal that bridges the gap between producers of organic foods and food ingredients, food manufacturers, retailers and consumers. Responding to industry needs and lifestyles, the site itself reflects a farm-to-table style: producers, wholesalers, retailers and consumers can easily locate certified organic products, services and prospects.
“We spotted a hole in the process. Many retailers would love to find unique and special products and the people who make those products would love to sell them. What was needed was a mechanism to bring everyone together. That’s what we have created,” said Graham Crisford, founder and president of Organic Assistant.
Consumer and business friendly
Mary Nasiri, director of Organic Assistant, said the site is designed to be equally friendly and useful to consumers and to food industry insiders.
“The is a side for the consumer who is looking for brands. Or perhaps they’re looking for a restaurant, winery or brewery that offers organic options. Then there is a side for business, which might be used by a restaurateur or food purveyor who is looking for a certified organic grower. It could even be used by a farmer looking for organic seed,” Nasiri told FoodNavigator-USA.
“Everything on the site is certified organic by the USDA. Companies or brands can promote their products on the site and know that we are closing that circle,” Nasiri said.
Nasiri said assembling the site was a painstaking process. It required sorting through the more than 26,000 entries on the USDA database of organic products and services. The data, while useful, is not always in the most search-friendly form, she said.
“It was about a year-long process sorting through the data we got from the USDA. One issue with that is that everyone puts their own data into that database. What one person might call a chicken someone else might call poultry. So we went through all of the entries to see which category each product should fit into,” she said.
According to Nasiri, the information found at OrganicAssitant.com includes:
An industry database filled with more than 26,000 certified organic crop, livestock and wild crop farmers, processors, handlers and distributors
- A database of more than 850 business and services looking for certified products
- A directory of more than 8,000 farmers markets
- Nutritional information for thousands of items
- A retailer database of more than 29,000 retailers meeting demands of the certified organic market
- The ability for each of the certified providers and brands to accurately present their business through a company profile individual page.
Nasiri said that the service, which has been running in the US for about three months, has been a pretty easy sell for consumers, brand holders and retailers. The value to farmers was a little more difficult to get across, she said.
“The challenge has been trying to get in front of farmers for them to understand how this site is built and how it can succeed for them,” she said.