Global markets: Tier 4

In Tier 4 of the food system, raw and processed foods are traded within the global market and move anonymously within international trade partnerships. Most food that is produced and consumed in the United States moves through Tier 4.

Benefits and challenges of Tier 4

Described below are some potential benefits and challenges of Tier 4 of the food system. For more information, see the Tiers 3 and 4 resources on the Farmer and food business resources page.



  • Year-round access to a global supply of seasonal vegetables and fruits.
  • A more stable market less interrupted by weather events.
  • Access to cultural food products, fresh and value-added, from around the globe.


  • Lack of face-to-face access to producer for product information.
  • Products must meet trade regulations, but consumers may not have complete knowledge of production practices.
  • Potential of large-scale recalls due to large-scale aggregation.



  • Farmers have abilities to increase production levels to meet large-scale aggregation needs.


  • Production floors may require a large capital investment in farmland and inputs.
  • Lack of consumer access.
  • Stringent inspections at aggregation point.



  • Employment opportunities available for large-scale global system.


  • Mechanization can decrease the number of employment opportunities available.


Tiers of the food system