September 1, 2015

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Local Foods Case Studies

With funding from USDA’s Economic Research Service, a team of researchers (including TFIC Research Affiliate Dr. Robert King) conducted a coordinated series of case studies on supply chains for local food products. The objective of this study was to improve understanding of the way in which local food products are being introduced or reintroduced into the broader food system and potential barriers to expansion of markets for local foods.

Case studies were conducted in five metropolitan areas, with a different product focus in each location. The five product-place combinations were:

  • Apples in Syracuse, NY
  • Blueberries in Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton, OR-WA
  • Spring mix in Sacramento, CA
  • Beef in Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI
  • Fluid milk in Washington, DC

For each of these product-place combinations, case studies were conducted on:

  • The predominant grocery supply chain for a product category (mainstream chain)
  • A supply chain for a local product that is marketed directly by producers to consumers (direct market chain)
  • A supply chain for a local product that reaches consumers through one or more intermediaries (intermediated chain)

Findings from these case studies are presented in Comparing the Structure, Size, and Performance of Local and Mainstream Food Supply Chains, USDA, Economic Research Service, ERR99. They also are presented in greater detail in Growing Local: Case Studies on Local Food Supply Chains, edited by Robert P. King, Michael S. Hand, and Miguel I Gómez and published by the University of Nebraska Press. This page provides links to documents that supplement the USDA report and the book.

Background Documents for the Study