The European Investment Bank has given a €15 million venture debt loan to Spanish online platform CrowdFarming, which allows European farmers to sell directly to consumers.
The loan was also backed by the InvestEU program and will be used for research, the development of new tools, enhancing the online marketplace, and to promote sustainable agricultural practices.
CrowdFarming’s marketplace has more than 300 farmers from 13 European countries selling directly to consumers without intermediaries.
Farmers are able to set their own prices, and CrowdFarming provides delivery, logistics, customer service, training and marketing support. Farmers are selected by agronomists who act as ‘farm hunters’ to ensure high on-farm sustainability, quality and production standards.
“We are thrilled to support CrowdFarming’s innovative and sustainable farmer-to-consumer business model,” said EIB vice-president Ricardo Mourinho Félix in a statement.
“By financing CrowdFarming, we are not just helping to bring fresh, organic food directly from farms to the doorstep of consumers across Europe — in line with Europe’s green and digital priorities – we are also driving a shift towards a more sustainable and efficient food supply chain.”
CrowdFarming chief executive and co-founder Gonzalo Úrculo added: “Direct selling is better for the farmer, who receives a fairer price; for the consumer, who gets fresher food; and for the environment, because it reduces travel time and unnecessary packaging.
“Furthermore, creating direct communication channels between farmers and consumers allows for greater awareness of the value of food and eliminates the demand for aesthetic criteria in the fruits we eat. The support of the European Investment Bank will enable us to expand the services and solutions for direct selling that we offer to farmers, transforming direct sales from a niche channel into a real consumption alternative for all Europeans.”