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Selling to food hubs

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March 4, 2020 - Author: ,

What is a food hub?

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a regional food hub is a business or organization that actively manages the aggregation, distribution, and marketing of source-identified food products primarily from local and regional producers to strengthen their ability to satisfy wholesale, retail, and institutional demand.

How food hubs support farmers

  • 82% of food hubs have a mission related to • Ensuring producers receive a fair price • Increasing small and mid-sized farmers’ access to markets
  • On average, 46% of a food hub’s suppliers are considered beginning farmers or businesses

What else do food hubs do for farmers?

  • Play the role of matchmaker in identifying appropriate buyers
    • Scale-appropriate or scale-able
    • Desired production practices
    • Food safety
  • Technical assistance and producer development
  • Some hubs bundle products into multi-farm CSAs or food boxes

Michigan's Food Hubs

  • 11 hubs
  • Statewide Food Hub Network coordinated by the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems

Pricing tips

  • Right price is somewhere between direct and wholesale
  • Don’t sell yourself short, but need to be competitive
  • Consider that the hub is adding value through marketing, distribution, direct customer management, etc.

Product line

  • Think about what you grow best and lead with that item
  • Sweet spot of 3-5 crops with consistent supply and quality
  • Consider what can be succession planted and/or harvested multiple times

Customer relationships

  • Hub may sell to your current customers
  • May want to retain at least some and use hub to get new accounts
  • Discuss how customer relationships are handled and your role

Food Safety

  • Hub may require written food safety plan or certification
  • Some may want to visit your farm
  • Generally liability insurance is also required

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Tags: agriculture, beginning farmer marketing, beginning farmer webinar series, distribution, farm management, msu extension


Related Topic Areas

Beginning Farmer Webinar Series, Farm Management


Authors

Mariel Borgman

Mariel Borgman
mborgm@msu.edu

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