We recently conducted a series of surveys among our network of local food suppliers, food hubs, and buyers. While we weren’t surprised that most buyers say they can’t find enough local product to meet their needs, we were surprised by how many suppliers and food hubs said they have problems selling all their available products.

When buyers can’t get what they need and suppliers can’t sell what they have, there is clearly a disconnect in local supply chains.

Let’s break down the results.

We asked suppliers and food hubs to tell us what they are seeing in the local food space, and the challenges they face with their businesses.

“We see a growing awareness of “local” and its importance to chefs, but not necessarily the follow through to integrate the product into their menus on a consistent basis.”

  • “We have more work to do to make it easier and more accessible to our customers, as well as more affordable for them and more profitable for us.”
  • “Markets are tight and there is a large gap in pricing between local and national supply chains”
  • “Growing interest in local food procurement programs at institutions”
  • “Needing access to more year-round product”

Buyer Responses

We asked buyers that purchase local food from our network of food hubs and suppliers to tell us how they address the challenge they face when purchasing local food. Let’s take a look at what type of buyers responded and what they had to say.

  • “Building my menu seasonally helps a great deal.”
  • “We try to source as locally as possible while still providing a cost effective product for our customers.”
  • “Using statistics on the positive impact of local purchasing.”

Buyers’ top 3 challenges in buying local food:

What can we do about this?

Local supply chains are still young, and it will take time to resolve many of the challenges identified by our respondents. Local Orbit continues to work on reducing disconnections across local supply chains through improved networking and demand planning tools.

In the immediate term, however, we can make it easier for chefs and retailers to tell the story of the local food on their menus – which will continue to grow demand and educate consumers about the impact of keeping their food dollars in their communities.

90% of buyers want access to marketing materials to promote their local food purchasing to their customers.

In response to this feedback, we are thrilled to offer a new feature that was previously available only to institutional buyers: On-Demand Table Tents and Posters. Any buyer or market manager can download table tents or posters in real-time, with producer and product stories for every order – as well as the food hub or distributor brand. And this, in turn, will help the market continue to grow.

Tell the story of what’s actually on the menu this week! No more generic or outdated local food marketing materials.

On-Demand Table Tents and Posters are available on the newly released Accelerate Plan, which supports maturing distribution businesses that need more granular features to manage their operations.

Current Local Orbit customers can lock in deeply discounted pricing by January 31. Contact service@localorbit.com for details.

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