Building Successful Food Hubs: A Business Planning Guide for Aggregating and Processing Local Food in Illinois
Food hubs are processing and distribution centers where independent, local farmers can market their products to larger entities like schools and government agencies, making locally-grown food more widely available. The lack of a food hub network in Illinois has been a barrier to increasing markets for small farmers.
To help meet the demand, FamilyFarmed.org partnered with DCEO, Illinois Department of Agriculture, and the University of Illinois’ Business Innovation Services to create the guidebook, “Building Successful Food Hubs: A Business Planning Guide for Aggregating and Processing Local Food in Illinois.”
The guide serves as a resource for communities, businesses, not-for-profits and others interested in establishing food hubs. The guide includes descriptions of key functions, best practices, and “how-to” strategies for establishing and operating food hubs that are based on successful food hubs operating in other regions, specifically adapted for application in Illinois’ food system.
Southern Wisconsin Food Hub Feasibility Study
FamilyFarmed.org is pleased to have been a partner with the Dane County Planning and Development Department to release the Southern Wisconsin Food Hub Feasibility Study! The new report shows that a food hub/packinghouse – which would enable area farmers to aggregate their produce, and provide storage, packing and distribution, limited processing, and private labeling for interested large volume buyers in the Midwest, including distributors, grocery stores, hospitals, hotels and schools and other institutional buyers – would create new jobs, and new revenue for up to 50 family farm businesses in WI.
Specifically, the facility would create 12 full-time and over 30 part-time jobs. Over time, the food hub would also generate additional opportunities for other agriculture and food enterprise businesses – potentially leading to the development of an integrated agricultural business center. The project could serve as a pilot for other local food hubs and packing house facilities throughout Wisconsin. According to the report, large volume buyers identified $18-26 million of local WI produce per year they would like to purchase from the food hub. The enterprise would provide local tax revenue and also add jobs beyond just facility staff. According to the study, 2.2 jobs are generated for every $100,000 in local food sales.
This type of facility builds on the Dane County and Wisconsin local food brand and will help to increase that profile and demand among larger metropolitan markets. The report was developed in response to overwhelming demand for local food, both a local and national trend, and Dane County’s priority in promoting business development, agricultural enterprise and farmland preservation.
Illinois Farmers Ready to Meet $23 Million Demand for Local Fruits and Vegetables
The demand for locally grown fruits and vegetables in Illinois far outstrips supply and a new Action Plan and Feasibility Study released by FamilyFarmed.org gives strong recommendations on remedies. “Buying local is the hottest trend in the food industry right now and Illinois is taking strides to capitalize on this movement,” says Jim Slama, president of FamilyFarmed.org. “This report describes the opportunity in this niche and spells out concrete steps that need to happen in order to take local fruit and vegetable production and sales to the next level.” The fourteen buyers interviewed for this report repeatedly stated that their demand for Illinois-grown fruits and vegetables far surpasses available supply and if they could, they would purchase over $23 million in Illinois-grown produce on an annual basis.
More, including the report here.
2011 Financial Resources for Agribusiness Enterprises in Illinois
As part of the 2011 FamilyFarmed EXPO Financing Farm to Fork Conference, we hope you find this guide helpful in researching financing options for your business. The guide has been adapted FamilyFarmed.org, Pete Petges, and the Financing Farm to Fork Advisory Board from a document originally produced by Stephen Versen and the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Forestry Services.
This document is a work in progress. Please email us your additions, corrections, and recommendations.
Virginia Food System Assessment Released
FamilyFarmed.org is pleased to release the new report: Local Food System Assessment for Northern Virginia. The report was developed in conjunction with the Wallace Center at Winrock International and funded by the Triskeles Foundation. The study assesses the feasibility of building a successful fruit and vegetable aggregation and distribution system in the Northern Virginia agricultural crescent around Washington D.C. that contributes local and regional products into the existing wholesale commercial food system. The intended outcome is to encourage the development of a local food system in Northern Virginia by offering a roadmap and insight to those embarking on the business development process.
Please click here to download a copy of the report.
Wisconsin Food Safety Assessment Released
The overall goal of the Food Safety Project for the Wisconsin Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Industry is “to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crop producers in Wisconsin by assessing the food safety needs of fresh fruit and vegetable producers and by developing best practices to meet the needs identified.” The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection contracted with FamilyFarmed.org to perform an analysis and devise recommendations regarding the current state of on-farm food safety within the Wisconsin produce industry. FamilyFarmed.org engaged industry representatives as stakeholders to participate in the needs assessment and contribute to overall project content and process. The needs assessment revealed that challenges exist for buyers, growers, distributors, and regulators. Read more and access the report here.