Understanding regional food hubs


The demand for local food is growing fast in Canada, providing small farmers with the perfect opportunity to secure their piece of a burgeoning market. Unfortunately, although many farmers may have expanded beyond farm-direct marketing sources like farmer’s markets and CSAs, they remain challenged by the lack of appropriately scaled distribution and processing infrastructure (abattoirs, processing facilities, small-scale trucking) that would allow them access to larger markets.
Enter the local food hub; the interconnecting link between producers and consumers that works in conjunction with existing food infrastructure to provide small farmers with access to a market they would normally have difficulty breaching.

So what exactly is a food hub?

Although every food hub is unique, as it responds to the producers and needs specific to its region, all food hubs strive to promote production growth, support farmers, make local food accessible to larger markets and stimulate economic growth.
The United States National Food Hub Collaboration defines a food hub as 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.”
In essence, food hubs provide the physical connections between small scale production and a larger market. This enables small farmers to expand production and pool resources with other farmers to reach a greater production capacity and enter a larger, more stable market than they could otherwise be able to infiltrate.
Some food hubs provide oversight only, or coordinate services online, while others are located in a bricks and mortar structure with a governing board and multiple employees. A food hub can be non-profit, co-operative or operate under a standard for-profit business model.
There’s no right or wrong format for a food hub; it’s up to the founders to create an entity that makes sense for the communities it will end up serving.

See more: http://smallfarmcanada.ca/2014/understanding-regional-food-hubs/