Values-based supply chains: local and regional food systems in the Upper Midwest United States

Duerfeldt, Kevin
Major Professor
Cynthia L. Haynes
Committee Member
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In recent years there has been growing public interest in sustainable food systems. One effect of growing interest is the proliferation of values-based supply chains or local food systems. The main limiting factor of local food systems is infrastructure for aggregation and access to supply chains. Food hubs have been identified as one solution. My purpose is to capture valuable data about the state of local foods industries in 2012 and inform organizations developing food hubs. To do this I surveyed characteristics of established food hubs and analyzed local Iowa vineyards and wineries, as a case study of an established local food system. I developed the following objectives: 1) determine the number and kind of food hubs operating in the Upper Midwest United States, 2) examine age, business structure, and products of food hubs regionally, 3) examine the location of food hubs in relation to their grower suppliers and customers, and 4) document financial, physical, human, and information resources, used while operating food hubs. To complete these objectives I developed and administered a 57-question survey to 91 food hubs in the Upper Midwest United States. Thirty-four food hubs responded (37%). Ninety percent of food hubs were for profit organizations mainly operating as corporations (47%) or cooperatives (38%). Food hubs used varying amounts and types of facilities and equipment originally financed using cooperative members (43%), private investors (29%), and private loans (24%). By facilitating communication between growers and consumers (73%) and between growers (65%) food hubs also build human and social capital within their local food system. Overall food hubs were highly variable, likely due to contextual differences such as consumer market, inventory supply, values, and financial resources. When analyzing Iowa's grape and wine industry I developed three spatial questions: 1) How are vineyards and wineries distributed in Iowa? 2) Are there statistically significant clusters of vineyards or wineries? 3) What are the site characteristics of vineyards? Mapping and statistical analyses were completed using ArcGIS, GeoDa, and Microsoft Excel. Through spatial analysis I saw the influence of market access on vineyard and winery density. Though there was no correlation between county population and vineyard or winery density, box plot maps of vineyards and wineries per county clearly show counties in the upper quartile near population centers and counties in the lower quartile in less populated areas. Based on proximity between vineyards and wineries alone, currently wineries should be able to meet aggregation needs of vineyards with winery service area ranging from 2046 km to 513375 km and the greatest distance between a vineyard and its closest winery being 54 km.