By Nessa Richman, Metrics & Development Manager

Posted August 2, 2016

News, Tools

Getting it There: The Role of New England Food Distributors in Providing Local Food to Institutions

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We are excited to announce the publication of the first in our new series of research reports designed to help food system stakeholders understand the impact of institutional markets on New England's food system. “Getting it There: The Role of New England Food Distributors in Providing Local Food to Institutions” presents in-depth findings and makes specific, data-based recommendations for food distributors – including food hubs – as well as government officials, funders and institutions.

The distributors who shared their input and unique perspectives ranged from small businesses to large companies. Together, they moved over a billion dollars of food in 2012, of which $366 million was sold to institutions. Nearly $60 million of these institutional sales consisted of locally produced food. Nearly 90% of these distributors said they believe that sales of local food to institutions will increase over the next three years.

The report is based on an original survey answered by more than 60 food distributors across New England in the spring of 2015. The survey was designed to:

  • Benchmark trends in local and sustainable foods in the institutional food market,
  • Develop an understanding of the degree to which demand for local and sustainable foods impacts food distribution businesses, and
  • Identify challenges and opportunities distributors see in growing this market.

This series of research reports is designed to inform key decision-makers in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors about how they can help move regional farm to institution work forward. Later this year, we will publish two more in-depth research reports: "Local Food on Campuses: Higher Education's Role in Farm to Institution," featuring results from over 100 college and university dining services, and "Agricultural Producers & Farm to Institution Sales," reporting findings from more than 225 New England farmers.

The purpose of our metrics project is to measure the impact of the farm to institution sector across the marketing chain. The project covers all facets of the supply chain, from production to distribution and consumption, with a focus is on three institutional sectors: schools, colleges and hospitals.

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Or view the food distribution report right here: 

To learn more about FINE’s metrics project, contact me at nessa@farmtoinstitution.org.