Portland area online grocery store focuses on sustainability
When the pandemic hit, the number of Americans having their groceries delivered to their doorsteps surged.
But delivered groceries often come packaged in layers of plastic, laminated cardboard and other materials that pile up in landfills or end up elsewhere in the environment, says Adam Poverman.
Green Truck Grocery, a new Hillsboro-based company founded by Poverman and two longtime friends, wants to offer sustainability-minded shoppers a solution.
The online-only store, which officially launched late last month, is marketing itself as "the first 100% renewably powered specialty grocery store."
It offers a full-service selection of more than 1,000 products — from fruits and vegetables to meat and bread to snacks and home goods — all packaged in curbside recyclable or compostable materials and delivered in 100% renewable energy-powered electric vehicles.
People throughout the Portland area, including in cities such as Hillsboro, Beaverton, Tigard, Tualatin and Milwaukie, can now order from Green Truck Grocery.
Poverman, who met his business partners Jeff Wilson and Zak Katz while studying at the University of Oregon, says the core mission of the company is to both maximize sustainability and offer customers full-service grocery store options.
"Environmental consciousness and a local focus is such an important part of this," Poverman said. "That is truly the differentiator."
In addition to sustainable packaging and zero-emission delivery vehicles, Poverman says the company's warehouse in Hillsboro is powered solely by renewable energy through Portland General Electric's Green Future Choice Program.
The grocer cuts down on transportation emissions by prioritizing products sourced from food producers and farmers in Oregon and Washington, Poverman said.
"Things are shipped with gas being guzzled, using all this unnecessary energy when there's product available in our backyard that is equally as good and oftentimes way better quality," Poverman said of the typical grocery supply chain.
The value of local sourcing also became more evident during the pandemic as supply chain issues left some products unavailable on store shelves, he added.
Poverman says he has been building relationships with farmers and producers that share his values of environmental sustainability and fair labor practices, as well as those who use non-toxic ingredients, he said.
Furthermore, Green Truck Grocery uses the "just in time" sourcing method by only ordering products as they're needed to meet customers' specific orders, Poverman said. The method helps ensure products are fresh and reduces food waste, especially for perishables.
That method works by having customers put in their orders ahead of time, and Green Truck Grocery only delivers on Sundays and Wednesdays.
To be a full-service grocer, however, Poverman says some items are not local. The San Francisco Bay area-based energy bar producer Clif Bar and the Vermont-based cleaning products company Seventh Generation are examples of non-local products for sale at Green Truck Grocery.
Additionally, Poverman is upfront about the company's target customers being those who can afford higher grocery bills. The cheapest available coffee is a 12-ounce bag for $11.99, for example.
One of Poverman's customers likes to compare Green Truck Grocery's prices to lesser ones at Fred Meyer, he said. Even still, Poverman said, the customer has been ordering since the company's soft launch in September. Poverman says the higher prices Green Truck Grocery charges are a tradeoff for the business' focus on sustainable, local products with home delivery.
Poverman said that same customer also epitomizes the kinds of relationships he wants to have with all customers. Poverman loves to chat with her about her day when he takes her delivery, he said.
He also welcomes any feedback on products, he said.
"If you can think of a product that's local, that's doing it well, and we have a different brand, we'll change over to that local brand," Poverman said.
At the moment, the companies' three founders, who have a combined 60 years of experience in the food and beverage industry, are their only employees.
Poverman, who has been the company's primary delivery driver since its soft launch, says Green Truck Grocery can currently handle about 50 deliveries per day, with plans to grow to meet demand.
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