Sixty-two percent of consumers are more likely to buy food and beverages described as local, and 57% seek out restaurants offering locally sourced products, according to Technomic. More than half of consumers say local foods taste better, and nearly as many agree local foods are higher in quality and less processed. Meeting this demand is challenging. Connecting small to medium sized growers with the buyers who are looking for local produce can be complex. Farmers and buyers grapple with everything from pricing strategy, distribution, food safety, seasonality, availability of supply, quality and consistency of product.
Food hubs have emerged to help address these challenges and connect farmers to markets seeking their products. Food hubs aggregate, distribute, and market source-identified food products from local and regional producers into wholesale, retail, and institutional buyers. No two hubs look the same. They can focus on any number of farm products – fruits, vegetables, proteins, grains, specialty goods and/or value added products. They range from large warehouse facilities to online marketplaces to processing facilities to technical assistance providers.
A food hub is often launched because a farmer, buyer, nonprofit, community organization or planning group has a vision of strengthening the local supply chain in their region. We help these groups conduct studies to determine the optimal operating model for a food hub given their goals and regional context, assess the financial viability of these potential food hubs, and develop robust business plans to launch these enterprises.
Food Hub Projects
Southern Wisconsin Food Hub Feasibility Study
New Venture Advisors worked with Dane County Planning and Development Department to assess the size and viability of a local food hub. New Venture Advisors completed the Southern Wisconsin Food Hub Feasibility Study in 2011, recommending that the county move forward in the development of a food hub, based on high levels of demand and supply identified. The business was launched in 2013 as the Wisconsin Food Hub Cooperative. (2011)
Wyoming Statewide Food Hub Network
New Venture Advisors is working with Bould Development and the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union to assess the strategy and feasibility of a network of food hubs across the state of Wyoming. The study is evaluating potential hubs in six distinct clusters across the state, and recommending how the hubs would transact with each other. (2016)
Western New York Food Hub
New Venture Advisors conducted a Feasibility Study with Field & Fork Network and in partnership with Cornell University Cooperative Extension. The study recommended the launch of a Western New York Food Hub. New Venture Advisors worked with the project team on an operator search, and then developed the food hub business plan alongside the chosen operator, Eden Valley Growers, a longstanding farmer-owned cooperative in Eden, NY. The hub launched in 2015. (2015)