> Food Hub Benchmarking Report 2019

The food hub benchmarking report illustrates ‘how’ food hubs are managing their businesses, and highlights the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that food hub owners, managers, and operators can use to manage their business and increase their profitability.

This report is not intended to be a ‘state of the food hub sector’ report, as it encompasses only 50 food hubs that were in operation in 2017, which is just a small cross-section of the sector. It’s not intended to be a description of ‘what’ food hubs are doing, as there have been many good studies covering this ground (for example, the MSU/Wallace Center Food Hub Survey). However, it can serve as a valuable resource for food hubs to better understand how they can improve the function of their businesses.

Any business, even mission-driven organizations, can’t be sustainable without sound financial management. A well-run food hub is a sustainable business in more ways than one: not only does it cover expenses and meet debt obligations, it reinvests in growth, evolution, and mission impact. A better understanding of food hub KPIs gives owners and managers the ability to plan, to set goals, and to achieve their mission.

Read the full report “Financial Management for Food Hub Success - One KPI At A Time

> Wallace Center's USDA GroupGAP Primer

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Market demand for locally grown food is stronger than ever. In response to this demand, small and mid-sized farmers are scaling up their businesses and entering wholesale markets. While these farms are committed to safe production practices, it can be cumbersome and costly for them to comply with food safety requirements designed with large-scale agriculture in mind.

GroupGAP was developed in 2016 by the USDA and the Wallace Center to help farmers of all sizes meet federal regulations and wholesale food safety requirements.

The USDA GroupGAP Audit Program is a model that allows individual farmers to certify their practices together as part of a centrally-managed group, meeting the latest FSMA requirements and certifying to GAP/GHP, Harmonized GAP, or Harmonized Plus+ (GFSI Equivalent).

GroupGAP provides an umbrella of support, with the local group and participating producers addressing food safety compliance cooperatively. This reduces the administrative and financial burden placed on farmers, while ensuring that all certified farms consistently implement food safety best practices that you and your customers can trust. The system improves product traceability, facilitates faster corrective action, and creates transparency at every stage from the farm to your store.

Read this primer to learn all about USDA GroupGAP.

> Value Chain Coordination "Quicksheets"

Value Chain Coordination is a market-based approach to developing local and regional food systems that better serve communities. Value chain work includes the development of collaborative ties among businesses along the food supply chain, with the expectation that the economic position of these supply chain members improves. Value Chain Coordination describes leveraging the soft infrastructure, in the form of skills, competencies and relationships, in a food value chain. With a strong soft infrastructure, individuals and organizations are far more readily able to acquire and utilize hard infrastructure in their communities.

These “Quicksheets” are designed to be easy to read, yet packed with information. The first two are meant to introduce the skills of value chain coordination, and the impact effective value chain coordination has on a community. The second two are meant to assist value chain coordination practitioners in measuring the impacts they have.

Roles of Value Chain Coordination is a primer, and describes value chain coordination as a set of roles that foster soft infrastructure development to build regional economies and communities.

Funding Value Chain Coordination as a Place-Based Development Strategy builds the case for communities to invest in value chain coordination as a long term and stable wealth creation strategy.

Evaluating Economic Outcomes considers strategies that Value Chain Coordinators (VCCs) can use to report the economic outcomes related to their work.

Evaluating Convening Events: Social Network Analysis and Rapid Stakeholder Surveys offers value chain practitioners two approaches that can be used to track value chain coordination relationship-building efforts through convening events.

> Findings of the 2017 National Food Hub Survey

Michigan State University's Center for Regional Food Systems once again partnered with Wallace Center at Winrock International to produce the 2017 National Food Hub Survey, and its report the Findings.

Made apparent in the related executive summary, there are six core concepts that emerge from the survey responses. It is clear that FOOD HUBS...

  • Are becoming an established sector
  • Contribute to the economy
  • Support farmers
  • Support the "triple bottom line"
  • Capacity to meet food safety certification demands is increasing
  • Still face viability challenges

Kate Danaher, Senior Director, Social Enterprise Lending & Integrated Capital at RSF Social Finance expresses the value of the study: "The National Food Hub Survey data is absolutely critical both for food hub operators and for those of us interested in investing in a new food paradigm. At RSF Social Finance, we use the data to help underwrite our investments and to provide practical business support services to our clients."