Building a Better Local Food System: A Case Study of the Western Montana Growers Cooperative
Local food systems aiming to re-create direct links between producers and consumers are emerging in the United States and elsewhere in response to the social, economic, and environmental consequences of the globalizing food market. Despite growing consumer demand for locally produced food, small-scale producers may not have the capacity to meet the needs of wholesale food purchasers, such as restaurants, grocery stores, schools, or hospitals, thus limiting their markets to direct sales to consumers. Wholesale customers, in turn, face a number of barriers to purchasing local food. Producer cooperatives may alleviate some of the challenges faced by wholesale buyers while opening new markets for their members. Previous studies have examined the perspectives of wholesale food buyers that may or may not purchase locally. This study explores the perspectives of wholesale buyers at grocery stores and restaurants who purchase from one producer cooperative in particular, the Western Montana Growers Cooperative. This research investigates the extent to which the Western Montana Growers Cooperative helps its wholesale customers overcome the barriers to purchasing local food, and offers suggestions for the Western Montana Growers Cooperative to continue building a vibrant local food system.
School:The University of Montana
School Location:USA - Montana
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Date of Publication:07/11/2007