Assessing the Economic Impacts of Regional Food Hubs: the Case of Regional Access

December 18, 2013
Author: 
Todd M. Schmit

In the past five years, there has been a proliferation in the number and recognition of ‘food hubs’ across the United States, as well as a substantial increase in foundation and public funding to support their development. In addition to generating economic value within a local economy, funders and policy makers are also acutely attentive to the impact of food hubs on local agricultural producers. While there is a substantial and growing literature that examines food hub activities, there have been few comprehensive, data-driven economic impact assessments completed to date. To adequately address this issue and to provide a replicable framework for similar studies, a best-practice methodology is needed to rigorously evaluate the economic contributions of food hubs on their local economies and the participating farms they support.

Furthermore, a better understanding of food hub activities is needed to evaluate the extent to which food hubs increase the overall demand for and consumption of local food products. Additionally, whether there is demand from customers to expand the availability of food hub products and services in light of opportunities to purchase products from traditional food distributors.