Sustainable Local Food Initiative Report
By The Consulting Firm of Reding & Moody, LLC
The purpose of the project was to lay out and record a new generation food business that provides an efficient method of coordinating the production, processing, distribution and sale of “local” foods by developing a replicable model that is sustainable economically and has positive social and ecological impacts.
The authors and contributors for this project were chosen not for their theoretical conceptual ideas or their academic achievements, but for their experience as those who have done, are doing, and intend to, produce, process, distribute and sell food for some time to come.
With a high percentage of agricultural food products being produced and marketed as a commodity, with the value to the customer as price point, or the least expensive, the opportunity to differentiate is often over looked. This is leaving a void in the market for those customers who place their highest value in other areas. This void, or niche, is formed from the limitations of the current commodities system to differentiate a business to meet this sector’s expectations. It is in this void where local food businesses will bring agri and culture back together and is the subject of this report. The basis of thought is that of a local food business which, by consistently meeting the expectations of a large enough sector of the market, or critical mass, will monetarily sustain the business by marketing not only the end product but by innovating the entire system toward the customers in this sector.
Though there are relatively few unfair regulatory barriers to beginning a local business, there are many hurdles to overcome primarily in the areas of processing and marketing. Without consistent, year round points of sale that are able to serve the critical mass of customers, and facilities to process, package, and store product, local food will continue to struggle to meet the growing demand from this market sector.
There will be companies and businesses that will rise to the occasion and punch through the veil into an authentic local food business. Among these will be the large box grocers who are even now forming strategies to buy more “local food” for their shelves and coolers. With this push come the questions of can a local food business consistently supply the quality and quantity required for this market sector in the big box point of sale? The question is not whether the large grocers will succeed, but whether their attempts will be accepted or rejected by the market sector.
Therefore, we find ourselves at a critical time for those in the local food sector to act before the tide or trend shifts into complacent acceptance of what the current industry will put on the table as local food because this sector will not wait indefinitely.
As agricultural food production and processing have become very specialized, they have to follow the tendency in any business to lean toward an internal focus on high efficiencies within the specialized field in which they operate. In order for this market sector‘s needs to be met, the business will need to understand and implement the authentic relationship marketing paradigm spelled out in this report. The business that succeeds at this will be treating the public like a “person” not a “statistic” and like a “customer” not a “consumer”. This done by innovating the entire system toward the wants of these customers, not toward efficiencies of the industry. Local food in its purest form cannot be a large food company or industry as we know them today. It will be comprised of many businesses and systems within those businesses that employ and engage the communities with which they serve.