As a food co-op or bulk buyers club member you may be thinking to yourself, “where do co-ops fit into the food hub model?”. Well, it turns out co-ops will play a crucial role in the success of the Food Connect Shed. First, let’s take a look at how food hubs build resilience in the local food system.
Much like Food Connect currently does, local food hubs are unique in that they take a values-based approach to their suppliers as well as their buyers. The result is that local farmers can enter the wholesale marketplace and take risks to grow their operations in order to increase on-farm viability. Local food hubs also provide small-to-mid-sized producers greater access to institutional and retail markets by playing a crucial aggregation and marketing role. The hub’s capacity to service larger customers means it will operate at much larger volumes than Food Connect currently does. The benefit of this is that purchasing greater volumes off producers means more economies of scale which ultimately means better prices in the long run for our wholesale customers (ie. YOU!).
Crucially, during the initial period where the hub develops its capacity to engage and secure agreements with large institutional buyers, a network of co-ops already buying through Food Connect provides a steady base for the operation to launch from in order to reach a viable scale. And the payoff? Better prices for you in the long run and the satisfaction of knowing that your co-op is actively supporting even more small-scale, local farmers to do what they love while getting paid a fair price for doing it long into the future.