‘Cureating’ the Local Food System We Deserve
Written by Nicole Oveisi, Fair Farms Intern
Fair Farms recently spoke with Cureate’s Founder Kim Bryden, a Fair Farms partner, about the innovative ways her food tech company is transforming the local food system. Food tech merges technology and the agrifood industry in order to modernize agriculture and create a more efficient and sustainable sector, from cultivation to consumption. Cureate’s platform does this by providing small food businesses with tailored consultations and courses, and new sales connections to large-scale buyers.
Kim started Cureate in 2014 with the goal of creating a more localized food system—one that shifts dollars back into our communities, boosts local and regional economic development, and builds an empowered supply chain that can meet the constantly evolving demands of consumers. Before starting her company, Kim worked in grocery retail and food tech start-ups. As she watched giant actors like Walmart and Amazon continue to dominate the industry, she shifted gears to focus on developing the food service side of our food supply chain. Realizing there is no agile food procurement system, and understanding online behaviors impact offline shopping, Kim filled this gap by building Cureate’s procurement platform.
The innovative company is helping to build a robust (and local) supply side of the food system. Cureate offers one-on-one technical assistance to food businesses as well as tailored courses and educational resources that empower entrepreneurs with the knowledge and skills necessary to sustain their businesses. She explained how a farmer might be “really skilled in harvesting or ranching, but perhaps might be unsure as to how to diversify their revenue streams or access new markets.” By connecting small and mid-sized food businesses with large-scale buyers like hospitals, universities, and hotels, Cureate facilitates a more localized and diverse food procurement. “By us driving sales for our buyers, more sales are directed to smaller businesses. It’s win-win-win all around!” Kim exclaimed. Not only does this generate more sales for smaller businesses, it also ensures a resilient food system that will be better equipped to withstand extreme weather events or future pandemics.
Cureate is based in Washington, D.C. but is already sweeping the Mid-Atlantic through partnerships with local and regional institutions and other local governments
Cureate currently works with the Frederick County of Economic Development and the Virginia State Business Development Center providing Cureate Courses curriculum. Previously, Cureate worked with the DC Food Policy Council and the Deputy Mayor of Planning and Economic Development in Washington, DC through Cureate Consult and Cureate Courses. The Cureate team also provides strategic counsel to Main Streets and Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) on navigating shifts in consumer tastes and interests in our changing retail environments.
The platform is also expanding the resources and educational services offered to vendors. Kim was excited to discuss Cureate’s new partnership with the Eastern Shore Entrepreneurship Center (ESEC), a nonprofit that recently won a federal grant competition for agriculture innovation by the USDA. The new partnership aims to provide workshops and mentorship programs for entrepreneurs in the food industry.
The company is also venturing outside of the Mid-Atlantic. While the goal is to ultimately scale Cureate’s reach nationally, Kim stated that they have identified a second metro area, Northwest Arkansas, to implement the platform. A hub of retail, supply chain, and agriculture activity, Cureate sees Northwest Arkansas as prime location to bring Cureate’s services to. The location was also chosen to help expand food access and explore what local and regional development looks like in a geographic area where the rural/urban divide is extremely close.
If you are a farmer or food business owner and think your business could benefit from Cureate’s services, check out their website or reach out for more information.