Apr 28, 2016
Resource helps food hubs improve financial performance

A new resource from the USDA Rural Business-Cooperative Service will help food hubs improve their financial performance. Food hubs are a businesses or organizations that manage the aggregation, distribution, and marketing of locally-produced food.

The Running a Food Hub report provides models and best practices for food hubs. Photo: USDA
The Running a Food Hub report provides models and best practices for food hubs. Photo: USDA

The new report, Running a Food Hub: Assessing Financial Viability, provides modules and best practices for food hubs to maximize profits and control costs. Part of a multi-volume series published by USDA Rural Development, the report provides technical assistance for food hubs at different stages of development. For example, it gives beginning food hubs advice on writing sound business plans, and it includes guidance on how established food hubs can expand into financially viable long-term businesses.

The number of food hubs in the U.S. has more than doubled over the course of this administration, with more than 350 now operational around the country, the agency said in a news release. Food hubs aggregate products from small and midsize farms and distribute them to large-volume buyers, such as grocery stores, in the local region. According to a comprehensive survey by Michigan State University, on average, each food hub supports 20 jobs and generates nearly $4 million in annual sales.

Rural Business-Cooperative Service Administrator Sam Rikkers presented the report at Washington, D.C.’s Union Market, a food retail space with more than 100 businesses employing 1,500 people in food production and distribution. Joining Rikkers at the market were representatives from the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture, a non-profit organization that operates a farm, mobile market, food hub, and farm to school program.

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