Regional partners and markets: Tier 2

The goal of Tier 2 of the food system is to make locally or regionally produced food products available in as many outlets as possible. In this tier, locally produced food moves from the farm through different marketing channels such as grocery stores, restaurants and institutional food services, such as those in schools and hospitals.

Moving from direct-marketing relationships into Tier 2 is often called “scaling up local food systems” because farmers must produce a larger volume of food products packed, packaged or processed in ways that grocery buyers or distributors will accept. Scaling up typically requires new facilities to manage tasks of packing, processing and combining food products from multiple producers.

Benefits and challenges of Tier 2

The section below contains some potential benefits and challenges associated with Tier 2 of the food system. For more information, see the Tier 2 resources on the Consumer resources, Community resources and Farmer and food business resources pages.

Consumers

Benefits

  • More outlets carry locally produced foods that incorporate consumer-desired values — such as sustainable, humane, grass-fed or organic — thus providing more options for consumers to buy foods grown in manners consistent with their values.

Challenges

  • Without consistent labeling of products, which is expensive, consumers must rely on chefs, food service buyers or grocers to source their desired foods.
  • Consumers have no personal relationships with farmers with whom they can discuss questions or problems.

Farmers

Benefits

  • Wholesale regional markets can verify the source of their foods and move products to more customers, potentially enabling farms to lower their average production cost per unit.
  • Farmers have opportunities to diversify market outlets.

Challenges

  • Farmers may need to invest significant capital in equipment for sorting, packaging, processing and distributing products.
  • The potential disconnect between farmer and eater may lessen potential profits if partnerships are not successful.
  • Selling at wholesale rather than retail prices may be less profitable overall.

Communities

Benefits

  • Several businesses can be strengthened or built, including produce and other food distributors, slaughterhouses and value-added meat processors, locally owned restaurants, packaging suppliers and third-party suppliers.

Challenges

  • External facilities and processors are needed to process, package and store products. These additional, supplemental services can be necessary to ease the movement of produce from local farms and food producers to local businesses and wholesalers.

 

Next: National markets: Tier 3