Comparing the Structure, Size, and Performance of Local and Mainstream Food Supply Chains

Economic Research Report No. (ERR-99) 81 pp, June 2010

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by Robert P King, Michael S. Hand, Gigi DiGiacomo, Kate Clancy, Miguel I. Gomez, Sherman D. Hardesty, Larry Lev, and Edward W McLaughlin

A series of coordinated case studies compares the structure, size, and performance of local food supply chains with those of mainstream supply chains. Interviews and site visits with farms and businesses, supplemented with secondary data, describe how food moves from farms to consumers in 15 food supply chains. Key comparisons between supply chains include the degree of product differentiation, diversification of marketing outlets, and information conveyed to consumers about product origin. The cases highlight differences in prices and the distribution of revenues among supply chain participants, local retention of wages and proprietor income, transportation fuel use, and social capital creation.

Keywords: Local foods, case studies, direct marketing, intermediated supply chains, farm-to-retail, farm-to-school, farmers markets, food miles

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