Satiating the Demand: Planning for Alternative Models of Regional Food Distribution
Despite the relative absence of wholesale distribution in much of the planning profession's academic and grey literature, emerging models promise to remake the relationship between producers and their regional markets. In this article, key lessons from the value(s) chain literature are illustrated with examples from comparative case studies con¬ducted by the University of Wisconsin–Madison Center for Integrated Agricultural System to acquaint professional planners and allied professionals with strategies for imbuing mid- to high-volume local food distribution with normative values such as transparency and fairness. The research presented here is not a comprehensive analysis of regional wholesale food distribution. Rather, we have focused on organizational, logistical, and marketing characteristics of local and regional food value(s) chains. We utilize an exploratory comparative case study method to identify innovations in food distribution focusing on midtier food value(s) chains. We then describe larger system interventions that planners could employ to better accommodate midtier food distribution needs in the regional planning and food regulatory environment. These interventions include documentation of existing wholesale food system infrastructure; incorporation of agricultural industry clusters into regional economic development planning; cultivation of regional culinary identities to enhance marketing and branding efforts; and collaboration with policy makers and food safety regulators to foster zoning and regulation that protect public safety and welfare and build the capacity and market access of local food entrepreneurs.
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