Amazon.com has found more ways to keep you from leaving your computer – bringing, say, your favorite artisanal coffee and neighborhood taco truck fare to you.
The company’s grocery subsidiary, AmazonFresh, is beginning home-delivery of “nitro” coffee, whoopie pies, Nepalese dumplings and other foodie fodder sourced from local micro-kitchens, food trucks and farmers markets to customers across a broad swath of the East Coast.
The move allows mom-and-pop artisans to tap into AmazonFresh’s huge reach, placing their goods on doorsteps in hundreds of Zip codes up and down the mid-Atlantic within 24 hours of the order being placed. It means the tiny businesses – many of whom have sales of less than $25,000 a year – will be able to sell beyond the traditional farmers markets and brick-and-mortar storefronts.
“This allows small cupcake companies and people who make Nepalese momos to deliver their products within around 24 hours from West Virginia to Delaware, which they could never do before,” said Brenda Brown, the chief executive of Frontier Kitchen, a food business incubator in Lorton, Virginia, that is working with AmazonFresh.
AmazonFresh’s northern Virginia fulfillment center supports deliveries across West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, southern Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
AmazonFresh declined to comment. The company already delivers grocery and prepared foods across the country from established businesses.
“These very small new companies view AmazonFresh as a distribution method that allows their products to more consistently reach customers and to expand their reach beyond farmer’s markets into homes across the mid-Atlantic they would never otherwise reach,” Brown said in an email. “Many of these companies began with Amazon in mid-September and only six weeks into the program have seen sales that will be significant and impactful to their businesses.”
Frontier Kitchen incubates very small/micro-companies in their earliest start-up phases. Most of these companies have been operating for less than a year and have annual revenue of less than $50,000. All of them are growing at a rapid pace.
“AmazonFresh is beginning to act as an accelerator for their growth,” Brown said.
Debra Moser, who runs three farmers markets in the Washington region and a small sausage and salami maker in Landover, Maryland, said AmazonFresh partnering with small businesses “is a good thing all the way around. It helps the farms and the artisan food producers. And for the people at the farmers markets, it’s another outlet for them.”
Brown provided snapshots of some of the companies partnering with AmazonFresh:
– Cascade Beverage Company, based in Lorton and in Mississippi, invented a technology for infusing nitrogen into beverages and developing a proprietary process for crafting smooth, rich cold-brew coffee at scale.
– Guadalajara Grills, also in Lorton, was created by Rosa Vasquez, a native-born Mexican immigrant who, along with her daughters, began sharing their cuisine through festivals and private parties. The food is now sold from a food truck and AmazonFresh.
– Loopy Scoops, based in Haymarket, Virginia, is the work of Loreann Grimes, a pastry chef and ice cream maker who started with a small cart in the Manassas farmers market in 2015. She now has three ice cream carts in two farmers markets and is beginning to supply ice cream, sorbets and popsicles for local restaurants and food trucks.
– Ms. Jo’s Petite Sweets was founded February 2016 by Army veteran Erinn Roth as a tribute to her late mother. Jo’s Petite Sweets creates desserts from scratch, gourmet ice cream and Southern-inspired holiday dinner packages.
– Himalayan Soul Foods truck, based in Lorton, began operations in July 2016, serving special Nepalese Momos (dumplings) throughout Washington. It was invented by Nepalese-born Sujit Shakya, who left his job at a nonprofit to launch his food truck.
Amazon was founded Jeffrey P. Bezos, who is the chairman and chief executive of the company. Bezos also owns The Washington Post.
AmazonFresh began its home delivery grocery service in 2007. It serves U.S. metropolitan areas including Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Boston and Dallas. It plans to roll out in the Distric of Columbia, too. It also has a service in London.
For more than a year, reports have circulated that Amazon.com wants to open grocery-centric brick-and-mortar locations, including outposts in Seattle and Sunnyvale, California.
The new outlets would allow shoppers to drive up and retrieve grocery orders they place online. The buzz grew louder last month when the Wall Street Journal reported that many such locations are in the works. It said the locations would include walk-in stores where customers can buy perishables.