Study Examines Where Food Hubs Flourish

A study recently published in the Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics found that a county seeking to establish its first food hub needs roughly 182,000 residents for that food hub to break even. Researchers found that roughly 500,000 residents would be required to sustain a second food hub and three times more to sustain a third. Stephan Goetz, professor of agricultural and regional economics and director of the Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development, comments, “Food hubs have enjoyed public and private support because they play an important role in local and regional food systems…What we’ve shown is that while there is a market to support food hubs in many places across the U.S., there also is a potential danger to unintentionally over-support and over-populate the sector, which poses a threat to the hubs that have found a business model that works and no longer need government support.” By contrast, the study found that only about 105,000 residents are needed to sustain a traditional wholesaler that is not mission-driven as a food hub is.