Together with business partner Martin Poucher, Mr Crotty has put together NeighbourFood, an online market showcasing independent producers.
Mr Crotty saw an opening to give smaller producers, who might currently be limited to farmers’ markets, an additional sales avenue.
“I thought this would be something that the customer could enjoy, because of the level of convenience,” he said.
“This system also reduces wastage for the businesses and guarantees freshness.”
From a customer point of view, NeighbourFood is a hassle-free way to source locally produced goods. Customers can browse the website and order from any or all of the producers listed on the site.
They complete the purchase online, with orders closing two days before pickup, and then collect their purchases at the designated place and time.
The producers get the orders on Monday and have the day to prepare and pack them and then drop them off for collection on Tuesday,” Mr Crotty said.
The first collection took place on Barrack Street on Tuesday night, with dozens of shoppers embracing the new model.
“There was a great buzz about it,” Mr Crotty said.
“We had 60 people order the first number and are hoping to raise that number as we go.”
Corkonians can buy from more than 20 businesses on the site, from long-established names like O’Mahony’s butchers and Arbutus Bread to specialist producers like ice-cream makers YumGelato chocolatiers, Danero Cork Chocolate, Elbow Lane Brewhouse, and Le Caveau Wine Merchants.
Mr Crotty hopes their system will soon be in use across the country and there are already a number of NeighbourFood markets in the UK.
“The software was developed by us in Cork and we have given in to 14 people in the UK so far,” he explained. “It is going well there, the concept was already there but our software was better.”
Despite it being a new concept in Ireland, he believes it can take off rapidly.
“We have had contact from a number of people about setting one up in their own area,” he said. “We will give them assistance to help set up, give them some promotional and marketing tools and encourage them to sell to their communities and get their producers up and running.”
The next Cork collection takes place on Tuesday from 5-7pm in the Apple Market, 13 Barrack Street, having ordered from http://www.www.neighbourfood.ie.