WAYLAND, IA - Driven by decreased demand for his own turkey since the Covid-19 pandemic began, a southeast Iowa farmer and businessman came up with an idea that would eventually become the online marketplace known as ChopLocal.
Jared Achen, of Wayland, Iowa, began to examine the supply chain challenges faced by farmers, processors and consumers in the late spring months of 2020. “At the same time that farmers had no markets for their livestock, consumers were struggling to get the meat they wanted from grocery stores. I knew there had to be a better system to connect the farmers who have meat with the consumers who want it,” he says.
Achen raises turkeys as a shareholder for West Liberty Foods, a turkey processing company and further processor of protein. He also serves on the board of Agri-Way Partners, a feed and grain operation with locations across southeast Iowa.
Together with co-founder Katie Olthoff, Achen is building ChopLocal. The company’s goal is to make it easier to buy and sell high-quality meat online.
“We’re creating a one-stop shop where customers can buy high-quality meats directly from farmers and small businesses,” says Olthoff. The marketplace allows customers to order from multiple farms/businesses at once for pick-up or delivery.
Support for the farmers and vendors is a key part of ChopLocal’s mission. From shipping logistics to best-practices for increasing sales, ChopLocal is able to provide services for small businesses that they can’t find elsewhere.
Each vendor has their own “microstore” where they can share more information about their farm or business. This helps customers know exactly who they are ordering from, whether it is a farmer or small meat shop.
“It’s really important to us that our vendors can tell their story and maintain their identity,” says Olthoff, who serves as the Director of Marketing and Vendor Relations. “We want to highlight the farmers and small businesses that make up this alternative meat supply chain.”
Olthoff was most-recently the Sr. Director of Communications and Membership for the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association and is the author of the “My Family’s Farm” book series.
The ChopLocal marketplace launched in early December with four vendors selling everything from beef and pork to gourmet bacon and rabbit. New vendors are being added regularly, and ChopLocal will be expanding out of its home state in early 2021.
Please feel free to use the photos of Achen and Olthoff below.