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Scaling-up Connections between Regional Ohio Specialty Crop Producers and Local Markets: Distribution as the Missing Link
Many local food systems advocates focus on increasing the number of farmers selling their products directly to consumers, but this type of direct marketing is only one strategy for increasing the consumption of local foods. Over 90 percent of all food for home consumption is acquired from retail venues (such as grocery stores) (USDA, ERS, 2010), suggesting an important strategy to increase the consumption of Ohio grown foods by Ohioans, is to focus on increasing the flow of these foods through the state’s distribution and retail market systems.
This research led by Jill Clark, Jeff Sharp, and Shoshannah Inwood and The Ohio State University Center for Farmland Policy Innovation is the first attempt at inventorying the existing produce retail-distribution structure to identify opportunities, barriers and the development needs associated with increasing the flow of Ohio grown fruits and vegetables to existing retailers and ultimately Ohio consumers. The report draws on their review of previous food system studies, as well as interviews OSU conducted with Ohio retailers, and a survey of produce distributors in the state. The goal of this work is to generate useful information that can identify next steps in scaling-up the connections between Ohio specialty crop producers and Ohio retail markets.