MONCTON – Frederic Laforge, the co-founder of the now-closed Farmers’ Truck, is partnering with grocery store Tomavo to deliver fruit boxes to businesses in the Moncton region. The new business, called EatFruits.ca, is set to begin deliveries in May.
Laforge said the business is inspired by his experience in the startup world and the effect that a good diet has had on the health of Tomavo operations manager Amer Khaled, who is a cancer survivor.
“Part of it is my understanding of the startup world, where people are working like crazy and they don’t have time to eat most of the time,” he said.
“So, what if we made it easy for people to eat [healthier]? It’s not about providing them with a full lunch, it’s just about an in-between snack that’s usually something quick to grab – that’s often a bag of chips or muffins.”
Laforge said the subscription service could serve as an extension to company wellness programs or something that a group of employees can arrange.
Under the partnership, Tomavo will source the fruits and prepare the boxes, while Laforge will handle the sales and marketing side.
Tomavo is a grocery store on Mountain Road owned by Khaled’s wife Samar Najarian. It offers lower prices for quality fresh fruits and vegetables. Most of them are from Canada, but Tomavo also carries exotic fruits from abroad.
Laforge, the former director of operations for Cooperation in Agri-Food New Brunswick, said he had been discussing the idea with Khaled for some time. The partnership “simplifies a lot of things” because Tomavo already has its own storage space, he said.
But the fruit box delivery itself is not a new concept.
“We’re trying to differentiate ourselves with the branding. I think it’s fun and exciting,” he said. “We’re reusing plastic boxes that are used for shipping and repurposing them. So, we’re eco-friendly on that end. We have a special display on cardboard that’s 100 per cent recyclable, that you can change the design at the back if you want to put a company logo.”
EatFruits.ca’s service will cost between $40 to $60 a week, depending on the size of the box. The larger box would include an average of 60 portions of assorted fruits. The company will deliver the boxes weekly, on Mondays and Wednesdays. Businesses can pause the service when needed.
The fruits that go into the boxes depend on what’s available in the season. But staples like bananas, apples, oranges and possibly grapes, will always be part of the selection, Laforge said.
With Tomavo already working with several Syrian refugees, Laforge said EatFruits.ca could employ them as well.
“We’re going to have, potentially, some Syrian refugees working delivery and preparing the boxes and everything. So, it’s a quite exciting project on that end,” he said.
Laforge is hoping to get 150 subscriptions by September. In the future, EatFruits.ca plans to expand to Fredericton and Saint John.
“We’re just trying to figure out our logistics,” he said. “We’re also looking at doing other types of products like fresh fruit juice that we would add to your order. We have all types of ideas. But we’re going to start with the fruit box and go from there.”