Food Hubs and Values-Based Supply Chains

California consumers are increasingly aware that food products are connected to their social, environmental and community values.  In addition to taste and freshness, consumers are interested in food that is local, produced using environmentally sustainable practices, fairly traded and more.  In order to increase access to this type of food, attention must be paid to building the capacity of wholesale channels moving product with these values-based attributes.

These wholesale channels have the potential to provide additional marketing options for small- to mid-sized, values-based producers and increase consumer access to their products. Such channels are increasingly referred to as values-based supply chains (VBSCs).  These supply chains include participation from 'farm to fork.' Businesses within VBSCs that aggregate product from these kinds of producers are often referred to as food hubs. 

Food Hub and VBSC Resources

The UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SAREP) has been researching food hubs and VBSCs to help develop marketing channels that provide greater economic stability and viability to small- and mid-sized farmers and food producers as well as fresh, high-quality food to consumers.  

The following publications explore opportunities and challenges for food hubs and VBSC implementation, and can be used as resources for participants interested in orienting their work toward values-based marketing and distribution.  

A Practitioner's Guide to Resources and Publications on Food Hubs and Values-Based Supply Chains: A Literature Review

This paper is a literature review synthesizing some of the recent reports, analyses, and how-to manuals and practical case studies geared towards practitioners working to develop food hubs, values-based supply chains and similar marketing channels.  

A Review of Scholarly Literature on Values-Based Supply Chains

This literature surveys and synthesizes much of the existing research and scholarship on values-based supply chains in the United States, in order to gain a better understanding of what we know and in what direction new research should head. 

Food Hubs and Values Based Supply Chains: A Toolkit for California Farmers and Ranchers

This report describes the variety of new values-based supply chains and food hubs in California and helps farmers and ranchers better understand the benefits and constraints of these new marketing opportunities so they can decide if and how they should participate. We provide an overview of benefits and considerations for producers participating in different types of enterprises. We also suggest some questions a producer might want to ask before participating in a particular enterprise. We hope that this effort will shed some light on the growing world of values-based supply chain enterprises so that farmers, ranchers, and consumers can all benefit.


Developing Values-Based Distribution Networks to Enhance the Prosperity of Small and Medium Sized Producers: California Case Studies

Summary and Key Findings

This document summarizes key findings from our values-based supply chain case studies. This project examines the financial, government regulations, industry business practices and entrepreneurial factors that influence the development of emerging distribution networks embedded in values-based supply chains.

Developing Values-Based Distribution Networks to Enhance the Prosperity of Small and Medium Sized Producers

Full Study

This project examines the financial, policy and entrepreneurial factors that influence the development of emerging distribution networks embedded in food-based value chains. Such networks can enhance the sustainability of small- and medium-scale producers, in the broadest sense, by addressing their environmental, economic and social concerns through a focus on cooperation, to gain economies of scale in marketing services, efficiencies in common distribution activities and building food system communities.

An Annotated Bibliography of Publications and Resources on Food Hubs and Values-Based Supply Chains

With the generous support from USDA Rural Development, SAREP has compiled an extensive annotated bibliography on food hubs and values-based supply chains.  The bibliography includes academic literature, reports and publications from non-profits and research firms, and articles in USDA publications and trade journals.  This resource is part of an ongoing SAREP project, also funded by USDA Rural Development, to provide tools and resources to California farmers and ranchers on this new and emerging field of values-based aggregation and distribution.