What is a Regional Food Hub?
"A food hub is a business or organization that actively manages the aggregation, distribution, and marketing of source identified food products primarily from local or regional producers to strengthen their ability to satisfy wholesale, retail and institutional demand." Agriculture Marketing Service of The United States Department of Agriculture
Since 2009, the thrust of NABC’s food hub development efforts has been to leverage "eat local" trends and create a fair and efficient agricultural infrastructure for the marketing, aggregation, distribution, and value-added processing of northwest Washington farm products. Representing the Pacific Northwest region, NABC is part of a national food hub movement, sharing experiences and best practices nationally while working locally with farmers and other like-minded partners. Regional food hubs have the potential to increase farm sales, reduce costs and waste, address regulatory requirements, and improve food safety standards while increasing access to locally produced foods.
NABC provides technical assistance to farmer-owned regional food hubs, including customized food hub management tool and strategic marketing assistance to buyers and sellers. The Puget Sound Food Hub is a shining example of NABC's work in food hub development.
Regional Food Hubs Matter
Despite the trends to "eat local" and "buy local" the Puget Sound region’s consumption of food is still overwhelmingly dominated by products sourced from outside of the region. These “imported” products are produced in a highly evolved system of scale where there is a greater capacity to meet regulatory requirements, and to achieve production and distribution costs that are substantially less than what local producers are currently able to achieve. In concert with the burgeoning demand for locally produced products, NABC's support of regional food hub projects will provide local farmers greater capacity to scale-up and compete against “shipped in” products, capture greater value for their crops, and increase farm profitability.
The USDA Agriculture Marketing Services has many resources available for understanding the growth of regional food hubs throughout the nation. Here are direct links to three important publications: