The food hub movement

Categories: How To
Published on: February 26, 2014

Drovers Cattle Network / Suzanne B.Bopp / 10 February 2012

In an article called “Five Food Predictions for 2012,” author Andrew Stout writes: “Networked food hubs are our future.” Which might cause you to ask: What’s a food hub?

The USDA website says that definitions for the term “vary from narrow market efficiency functions to those related to visions of building a diversified food culture.” The working definition on which USDA settles is this: “A centrally located facility with a business management structure facilitating the aggregation, storage, processing, distribution, and/or marketing of locally/regionally produced food products.”

So, a food hub is something like a farmers’ market, but it’s a little bit more than that. For one thing, it’s ongoing. Its physical and organizational infrastructure allows multiple farmers to store, and sometimes process, their products there and then market them to local consumers or distributors. The essential components of the food hub business model, according to the USDA, are: aggregation/distribution-wholesale, active coordination and permanent facilities.

The USDA is a fan of the food hub movement and its ability to build a stronger regional food system. It lists the potential benefits: Producers can get expanded market opportunities, rural areas can get jobs and consumers can get access to fresh food.