Stirling’s threatened online food market is saved by Ireland’s own 'Rocket Man'

An online food market threatened with closure after the French organisation behind the platform announced it was pulling out of the UK has been saved by “The Rocket Man”.

Published 3rd Oct 2018
Updated 15 th Sep 2023

Cork chef Jack Crotty came to the rescue of the Stirling site with a new e-commerce platform, NeighbourFood, after news broke in July that Food Assembly would be pulling out of the UK in September, closing all 70 of its markets.

Forth Environment Link (FEL), which manages Stirling’s market, vowed to find a way to let the popular service continue. The charity set out to find a replacement online platform which meets the city’s growing appetite for local produce.

FEL development manager Emily Harvey said: “Food Assembly may not be performing well across the UK, but Stirling is bucking that trend. We’re ranked among the top five Food Assemblies in the UK and have attracted over 2,000 members.

“We’re really looking forward to working with Jack and his team and building on what we have grown here in Stirling. Like Food Assembly, NeighbourFood will be a sustainable way to food shop, that supports local producers and cuts down on food miles.”

NeighbourFood founder Jack Crotty began his career as a chef, before setting up his restaurant, The Rocket Man, six years ago with the aim of using local produce to create fast food. The entrepreneur has since started running farmers’ markets from a derelict farmyard in the centre of Cork, where he also sells his own salad produce.

Jack said: “As a small-scale producer and chef, I understand the challenges local producers face to get a fair price and the difficulties people experience trying to source fresh local produce. NeighbourFood aims to solve both of these issues and build a community at the same time. We can’t wait to launch the new market and get our teeth stuck in!”

The transition between the two e-commerce platforms will be funded by Connect Local Regional Food Fund, a government scheme which supports local food and drink initiatives, and the market will continue without a break in service. The new food platform has already expanded to neighbouring Linlithgow.

Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.
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