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商业 - 科技

瞄准吃货的创业点子:快递美食

Erin Griffith 2014年08月27日

足不出户吃遍天下,借助快递的“美食旅游”正在蓬勃发展。据世界旅游美食协会估算,这已经是一个价值高达1,500亿美元的产业。初创公司Try the World瞅准这一商机,为吃货们推出了45美元的订制食盒。

    
 
Try the World的巴黎食盒

    都是美食频道惹的祸。电视里的美食频道以及它们的触手已经把当个美食家的概念从无聊的烹饪节目中拓展出来,转变成了丰富的娱乐探险活动。要不是这样的话,那就怪以全食超市(Whole Foods)为代表的提倡健康和本土化饮食的养生食品运动吧。总之无论是什么缘故,“美食旅游”(culinary tourism)正在蓬勃发展。十年前,人们几乎不会讨论这个,而如今,根据世界旅游美食协会(World Food Travel Association)的估计,这已经是一个价值高达1,500亿美元的产业。

    然而,不是每个人都能负担得起美食节目主持人安东尼•波登那样的生活的。由凯特•沃洛托瓦和大卫•福尔特建立的初创公司Try the World,现在可以将外国食品从遥远的地区送到美国境内的顾客家门口。这家位于纽约的公司从今年开始营业,不断把价值45美元的各种食盒送到用户手中。(用户可以单独购买某一食盒,也可以包月订购。)公司的第一个食盒是来自巴黎的情人节食盒,每个能挣1美元。食盒在两天之内售罄,从那时起至今,Try the World已经运送了成千上万个食盒了。

    这家公司利用了一个食品商店才刚刚开始意识到的趋势:美国人对品种的多样化如饥似渴。沃洛托瓦表示:“顾客开始要求越来越精致的生活。如果他们想喝咖啡,他们希望那是巴西出产的;如果他们想要香蒜沙司,他们会希望那是意大利进口的。”

    如此一来,通过食盒,好奇的美食家们就能尝试其他烹饪风格炮制的食品,而不必亲自去到那里。Try the World的食盒都由当地的“文化指导”准备,他们是希望让自己的产品走向美国的大厨或食品业的专家,通过将当地的流行食品与相关背景信息糅杂在一起,让顾客知道食物的来龙去脉。比方说,巴黎的食盒中包含一颗来自政府法定控制产区的栗子,一袋来源于卡玛格(Camargue)地区的手工盐,还有法国连锁商“茶宫”(Palais des Thés)的茶叶。

    沃洛托瓦表示:“我们想要营造出一种氛围,就像有人正在旅行,并给你带来了当地最棒的产品。”公司与国外品牌合作,在食盒中囊括的食品上获得了相当的折扣,因为有许多国外品牌也想开发美国市场。

    Try the World已经开始提供来自法国、日本、巴西、意大利、土耳其和印度的食盒。下一个食盒中将包含来自英国的食物。食盒被定位为城市型,主要包括一个地区的产品,不过也含有某个城市的一家商店中售卖的全国特产。

    Try the World已经通过天使投资募集了70万美元,用于营销投资以及拓展食物的范围。投资者中包括法国企业家乔治斯-亨利•列维,前美国运通(American Express)高管布莱恩•克莱因伯格和贝斯•莱西,哥伦比亚大学商学院(Columbia Business School)教授兼奢侈品分析师凯蒂•梅森卢兹,Genki Advisory咨询公司的财务顾问凯文•奎恩,食品业高管多米尼克•法耶,以及哥伦比亚大学商学院的尤金郎创业基金(The Eugene Lang Entrepreneurship Fund)。

    Blame the Food Network. The television channel and its many tentacles has transformed the idea of being foodie, once the province of boring recipe shows, into full-on adventure entertainment. If not that, then blame the Whole Foods-fueled movement toward healthy and local eating. Whatever the cause, culinary tourism is on the rise. Ten years ago, it was barely discussed. Today, it’s an estimated $150 billion industry, according to the World Food Travel Association.

    Not everyone can afford to live like Anthony Bourdain, though. The startup Try the World, Kat Vorotova and David Foult, has emerged to bring exotic foods from far-flung destinations to doorsteps around the U.S. The New York-based company has been shipping $45 boxes of various packaged foods to subscribers since the beginning of this year. (The boxes can be purchased individually or via monthly subscription.) The goal with the company’s first box, a Valentine’s Day package from Paris, was to make $1. The boxes sold out within two days, and Try the World has shipped thousands of boxes since.

    The company tapped into a trend that grocery stores are only beginning to recognize: Americans are hungry, literally, for variety. “Customers are becoming more sophisticated,” Vorotova says. “If they want coffee, they want it to be from Brazil, or if they want pesto, they want it to be from Italy.”

    Thus a box that allows curious eaters to sample snacks and flavors of other cuisines without actually traveling there. Try the World’s boxes are curated by local “culture guides,” which tend to be chefs or people in the food industry looking for exposure in the U.S. The goal is to offer an authentic mix of local favorites, packaged with background information to put the food into context. The Paris box, for example, features a chestnut spread from a region protected by a government standard called appellation d’origine contrôlée, a package of hand-harvested salt from the Camargue region, and teas from Palais des Thés.

    “We really want it to feel like the experience of someone who is traveling and sending you the best goodies,” Vorotova says. The company works with foreign brands to get deep discounts on the items included in the boxes, since many foreign food brands are seeking to grow in the U.S.

    Try the World has shipped boxes from France, Japan, Brazil, Italy, Turkey, and India. The next box will be focused on foods from Great Britain. The boxes are marketed as city boxes, focused on one location, but feature items from around the country that would appear in a store in a particular city.

    Try the World has raised $700,000 in seed funding from angel investors to expand its offerings and invest in marketing. The investors include Georges-Henri Levy, a French entrepreneur; Brian Kleinberg and Beth Lacey, former American Express executives; Ketty Maisonrouge, a professor at Columbia Business School and luxury strategist; Kevin Quinn, a financial advisor at Genki Advisory; Dominique Faye, a food industry executive; and The Eugene Lang Entrepreneurship Fund at Columbia Business School.

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