Online grocer coming to Philadelphia

Delivering groceries isn’t new, but a New York company thinks it has the “next big thing” for Philadelphia neighborhoods its goal is to bring food from farm to table via the Internet.


The goal of Fresh Direct is to eliminate the sometimes tedious trip to the supermarket, combing through the aisles to find the best food. Company CEO Jason Ackerman says the home delivery isn’t just about convenience.

“Fresh Direct’s mission is to be the number one world class fresh food store. We are all about passionate people who want to bring fresh food to marketplace,” said Ackerman.

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The concept is simple. You go online and pick out what you want and a two-hour delivery window. David McInerney is in charge of food quality. He says the company will travel the country to find the best food to bring to the table.

“For years, retailers had been banging on farmers and growers to grow product as cost efficient as possible to yield the most, but sadly the quality and flavor was not at the top of the list of criteria,” said McInerney. “That’s what we focus on, we do the opposite, we go out to farms and say we want the best.”

Mark Hamstra is an editor at Supermarket News, a trade publication for the food industry.  He predicts the service will do well in Philadelphia but online buying in some categories such as fresh foods will be a difficult sell for many.

“People want to see how ripe the bananas are, they want to see the quality on the bruising of the apple, they want to thump the melon, they want to see the marbling in the meat,” said Hamstra.

Online grocery chain Peapod already has been offering delivery in the Philadelphia region, through Giant Supermarkets.

Fresh Direct says it’s competitive with the bricks and mortar supermarkets and offers prices lower than some specialty food markets. The company is starting out mostly in Center City neighborhoods, and if all goes well, they want to expand to cover the region next year.


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