One hurdle to creating a thriving local food system is connecting food producers with commercial buyers. Getting local food from farm to shelf, menu, or plate is not as easy as it seems.
Unless you live in the Pacific Northwest, where an online marketplace called FoodHub is leveraging technology’s benefits to help forge these much-needed connections.
Launched in 2010, FoodHub is a digital business directory that links regional producers with local buyers. Think a wholesaler’s Etsy or Craigslist for local food.
“FoodHub helps regional producers connect directly to the person responsible for buying food at any kind of commercial food operation—restaurant, caterer, buying club, school, hospital, grocery, etc.,” said Amanda Oborne, Food and Farms Director of Ecotrust, the Portland-based nonprofit responsible for FoodHub. “It saves all the work of trying to hunt down the right contact person, and puts a world of potential buyers at the producers’ fingertips.”
Similarly, FoodHub provides locally minded buyers an accessible tool for sourcing the freshest, local-est products.
FoodHub’s now 4,500 members include not just producers and commercial buyers, but also distributors and the myriad of entities that belong in the local food equation—NGOs, the media, trade associations, research institutions, government agencies, etc.
According to Oborne, one of their poster child success stories is Reister Farms, a Washington-based farm that specializes in sustainably produced lamb. Foodhub has enabled the Reisters to change its business model from reliance on solely farmers’ markets to selling year-round and primarily to wholesalers, many of whom they connected with through FoodHub.
In light of the increasing demand for local food, innovative solutions providing producers better access to buyers, such as FoodHub, will enable ample supply for local-hungry consumers.