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Money and Mission: Moving Food with Value and Values

Adam Diamond, James Barham


In response to low margins in traditional commodity markets and consumer demand for decommodified food, food value chains have emerged in the last decade as strategies for differentiating farm products and opening new, more financially viable market channels for smaller farmers. These business networks incorporate strategic coordination between food producers, distributors, and sellers in pursuit of common financial and social goals. Our analysis of the aggregation, distribution and marketing functions of eight food value chains of diverse character across the United States reveals four summary findings that encapsulate the challenges and opportunities facing these business organizations: (1) private infrastructure investment should match the organizational stage of development and market capacities; (2) identity preservation is a critical market differentiation strategy; (3) informal networks can be highly effective tools for coordinating the marketing efforts of diverse agricultural producers; and (4) nonprofits and cooperatives both can play key roles in value chain development, but should recognize their organizational competencies and limitations.


Agriculture Of The Middle; Farmer Networks; Food Distribution; Organizational Development; Regional Food Systems; Value Chains

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