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Green BEAN to grow in Louisville after competitor closes

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Indianapolis-based produce and groceries distributor Green BEAN Delivery expects to expand in the Louisville area after taking on customers from a closing competitor in the Kentucky city.

Louisville-based Grasshoppers Distribution announced Wednesday to its network of area customers and food suppliers that it would shut its doors on Friday. Matt Ewer, co-founder and president of Green BEAN, told IBJ that his company “acquired” Grasshoppers’ list of customers and suppliers, but he declined to discuss terms of the deal.

More than 1,200 families subscribe to Grasshoppers' grocery program, and more than 70 farmers and artisans supply the service, the company says on its website.

Both Green BEAN and Grasshoppers are farm-to-table organic food providers. Green BEAN already delivers to about 1,500 customers in the Louisville area, but the deal announced Wednesday will strengthen the company’s presence and let it grow, Ewer said.

He described the businesses as “friendly” competitors. The main difference in their business models, he said, was Green BEAN delivers groceries to homes while Grasshoppers set up pickup sites.

Two full-time and 10 part-time employees of Grasshopper will lose their jobs, and Grasshoppers will vacate the warehouse it leases in Portland, Ky., according to an interview with the chairwoman of the company's board by WDRB-TV in Louisville. The chairwoman said that Grasshoppers was able to attract only 500 recurring weekly customers.

Green BEAN does not plan to make any hires as it absorbs Grasshoppers' business, Ewer said.

The company, which Ewer began in 2007 with his wife, Elizabeth Blessing, has been on a growth tear. It is on track for more than $15 million in revenue this year after it closed 2012 with more than $10 million, Ewer said.

Green BEAN currently serves about 15,000 customers and uses about 100 vendors, not yet counting additions from Grasshoppers. Employment has grown to about 185 people from 165 a year ago. About 90 of its current employees work in Indiana.

Beside the Indianapolis and Louisville areas, the company has set up delivery operations in Columbus, Ohio; Cincinnati; and St. Louis.

Green BEAN—an acronym for Biodynamic, Education, Agriculture, Nutrition—delivers a customizable variety of fruits and vegetables, along with natural-leaning groceries, to members’ doorsteps weekly or biweekly. The minimum order is $35.

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