Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Regional Food Hub Models

It is no secret that efficiencies of scale contribute to successful business models and local food production is no exception. Food hubs are emerging which are aiding local farm producers in achieving efficiency of infrastructure, employees, and marketing. These really are essential for the survival of the small local producer, and when I attended a Boulder County farmer panel Q&A earlier this year this was brought out, "View from the Real World: What are concerns of Boulder County Open Space Farmers?"
  • Over 100 food hubs are in operation around the country, with large clusters of food hubs in the Midwest and Northeast.
  • Average food hub sales are nearly $1 million annually.
  • On average, each food hub creates 13 jobs.
  • The median number of small and midsize suppliers served by an individual food hub is 40.
  • Almost all food hubs offer fresh produce and the majority offer dairy and protein products as well.
  • Nearly 40 percent of food hubs surveyed were started by entrepreneurial producers, nonprofits, volunteer organizations, producer groups, or other organizations looking to build a strong distribution and aggregation infrastructure for small and midsize producers.
  • Over 40 percent of existing food hubs are specifically working in "food deserts" to increase access to fresh, healthful and local products in communities underserved by full-service food retail outlets.
For an example of just one food hub model, check out this one in Vermont.