This blog is the second in a two-part series on selling farm products through outside distribution channels like food hubs (read the first blog here). The Wallace Center recently released a new report on Maryland Food Hubs. The Wallace Center partnered with SMADC on the report, looking at research SMADC has undertaken in the past few years on Maryland food hubs (existing and emerging), and the knowledge the Wallace Center has built around food hub and food system work at the national level. The report focuses on the opportunities and challenges for Maryland food hubs, both existing and emerging.
Listed, are five challenges facing Maryland Food Hubs, two and four are good for Maryland farmers to keep in mind:.
- Access to capital
- Access to adequate supply
- managing pricing, sales, and growth
- Food safety and regulated markets
- Balancing margin and mission
Farmers have an advantage on the market right now, there is more demand for local products in Maryland through food hubs than there is supply. Farmers are also being faced with more regulations with regards to food safety. The report outlines more information for Maryland farmers to take note of. Transparency is also important. Make sure your products are labeled/tracked through the whole distribution chain and that hubs are accurately promoting your farm and products.
Since food hubs are not “one size fits all” models, The report showcases Local Spotlight sections each highlighting the existing Maryland food hub models. Farmer owned cooperatives who serve a tight geographic region (Garrett Growers), a for profit business buying in from farms within a broader region (Friends and Farms), and a business connecting chefs and farmers through an online ordering system and delivery model (Chesapeake Farm to Table). We recently had the chance to tour to Friends and Farms and the nearby Maryland Food Center Authority, and we are hoping to tour of Chesapeake Farm to Table this summer. If you are interested in attending let us know (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we’ll be sure to put you on the mailing list for updates.
The full report and more information can be found on SMADC’s website here.