Direct-To-Business and Direct-To-Institution Marketing and Distribution Arrangements for Ethically-Based Farms: Reduced Value Chains and Other Strategies for Increasing the Viability of Mid-Sized Southern New England Farms
Henry Renski, Chair - Mark Hamin, Member - Judith Gillan, Member
This Master's Project aims to examine the issues involved in the creation and enhancement of direct-to-business and direct-to-institution marketing and distribution arrangements for mid-sized farms in Southern New England. Previous scholarly and professional literature has indicated that regional food systems are less costly from an environmental perspective than national or local ones, identity-preserved products have inherent marketing advantages over untraced farm products, and these advantages can be enhanced through cooperative efforts by major farm customers. This research study involves reviewing leading examples of local farm marketing and distribution networks, analyzing regional spatial and statistical data, and conducting interviews with farms, distributors and local purchasing businesses in the Southern New England region. Key findings include that direct-to-business and direct-to-institution sales can constitute the core of a farm's marketing strategy, chemical-free and all or partial organic farms are the most likely types of farms to have this type of sales, and small-scale processors are likely to want to provide extra benefits to farmers.
Forging direct linkages with business customers and transforming supply chains in to integrated value chains are found to be strategies with the greatest potential to enhance the viability of the region's mid-sized farms. The research presented here also suggests that these strategies are most likely to be successful when applied to relationships between ethically-grounded, mission-driven enterprises.