A new ATTRA publication, “Scaling Up for Institutional Markets: Midwest Case Studies” offers real-world examples and tips for small-scale producers and ranchers interested in supplying new markets for fresh, local food among institutional clients, such as colleges and K-12 schools.
The publication’s authors, Ann Robinson, NCAT Midwest Regional Office Director, and Marlie Wilson, FoodCorps Iowa Fellow, conducted a number of interviews, including with Bon Appétit Management Company’s Farm to Fork Program Midwest “Forager,” and with representatives of the new Iowa Food Hub who are working with schools and businesses.
The interviews review challenges as well as opportunities for a CSA farm, a grass-fed beef marketing company, and a dairy. Those interviewed discuss practical considerations for producers and institutional markets, such as arrangements for marketing and processing, labor, transportation, and equipment. The publication also suggests funding and educational opportunities that can help farmers scale up, along with additional resources.
“Institutional customers can help grow local farm businesses, help them diversify products, and, in some cases, help them reduce risks,” says NCAT’s Robinson. “This all sounds good. But it’s not necessarily simple to make the transition from the direct-market scale to take advantage of institutional clients. We hope these case studies will help producers who want to find new markets explore the landscape of what is possible.”
The 15-page publication is free to download as a PDF or costs $3 to order a print copy, at: https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/summaries/summary.php?pub=499. ATTRA has a number of other resources on Scaling Up for Regional Markets that include a set of farmer-friendly tutorials on topics such as equipment, business planning and labor.