The La Montañita Co-op Distribution Center (CDC), based in Albuquerque, N.M., has become a regional food hub that buys food from an estimated 300 New Mexico ranchers, farmers and other food producers, and then sells it to a network of commercial customers around the state, according to the Albuquerque Journal. Since it started eight years ago, La Montañita’s center has served as a channel for local producers looking to expand their market, and a source for higher-volume customers who want to serve and sell local food. CDC navigates some of the distribution, logistics and marketing challenges that might otherwise squelch that food flow.
CDC grew out of La Montañita Co-op – a consumer-owned cooperative with six retail markets – but counts La Montañita as one of its many customers. CDC also sells to other cooperatives and markets around the state, dozens of restaurants and even Whole Foods.
CDC falls into the category of a “regional food hub.” The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines those as operations that help “(manage) the aggregation, distribution, and marketing of source-identified food products primarily from local and regional producers to strengthen their ability to satisfy wholesale, retail and institutional demand.” A few hundred exist around the country.
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Editor’s Insight: Regional food hubs like the La Montañita Co-op Distribution Center are expanding throughout the country. They provide technical assistance to small food startups in the areas of business management, processing, production, logistics and marketing. In addition to helping startup food companies, they help food retailers and foodservice providers meet the growing demand for locally produced food.
In addition to support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, these food business centers receive support from economic development organizations working to improve the business climate and employment opportunities. Regional and local economic development organizations are also growing.
For companies that provide support services to food producers, these food business centers offer great networking opportunities for up and coming food companies. By Elliot Maras 12-15-14