Developing regional distribution networks to enhance farmer prosperity: Retail value chains

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2010: $24,906.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2011
Region: Western
State: California
Principal Investigator:

Annual Reports


Not commodity specific


  • Education and Training: extension, networking, participatory research, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, cooperatives, market study, value added
  • Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, partnerships


    • Values-based supply chains are not arranged in neat linear relationships but are networks that interact with one another in complex ways.

    • Participants are looking for the same values. Chefs, institutional buyers, grocers and retail customers want to know the story of the farm, its scale, location and that the production practice is sustainable or organic.

    • “Aggregation hubs” or “regional food hubs” are emerging in various forms for small- and mid-scale producers to consolidate product.

    • It is more important to success in this market niche to tell an authentic story than claim to be “local.”

    Project objectives:

    • To assess the success of values-based supply chains in California, particularly one anchored by a retail buyer — the Sacramento Natural Foods Coop.

    • Determine the extent to which (1) access to financial capital; (2) policy/regulatory/industry context (e.g., processing, food safety, insurance); and (3) entrepreneurial (or business acumen) skills contribute to developing the distribution network, building strategic partnerships and overall success.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.