Exploratory study to identify business interest in local foods in the Somerset County region

Local food is not only in demand at farmers’ markets, through community-supported agriculture (CSA), and other direct-to-consumer channels; it is also in demand in schools, hospitals, restaurants or any place where food is purchased.  In a meeting organized by the Somerset Economic Development Corporation in October 2013, the need to increase the penetration of local foods and to increase sales to high disposable income customers were specifically identified as key needs of the developing local food hub.  In this exploratory study, buyer outreach research in the Somerset County region explored local food consumption and expenditures and factors that influenced local food purchase decisions including:  desired use of local foods, types of produce and quantities demanded by buyers, and preferred time of year.  Other requirements including:  quality of product, food safety certification requirements, price, client preference, and consistency were investigated as well.  A written report of our findings will be provided to the growers and businesses connected to the Skowhegan Food Hub and the Somerset County Economic Development organization.

Full report is available in the MAC Integrated Research & Extension Grant Reports: 2014-2015.

Project No.: MAC142

Investigators: Kathryn Hopkins, Debra Kantor