Home Volume 2, Issue 1 Satiating the Demand: Planning for Alternative Models of Regional Food Distribution


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Satiating the Demand: Planning for Alternative Models of Regional Food Distribution

by Lindsey Day-Farnswortha and Alfonso Moralesa,*

http://dx.doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2011.021.020, pp. 227–248



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.


Keywords: business models, food distribution, food system planning, food systems, value chains



a University of Wisconsin – URPL, 925 Bascom Mall, 104 Music Hall, Madison, WI 53706 USA.

* Corresponding author: Alfonso Morales, +1-608-263-4848; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Banner photos include a Cape Cod cranberry bog; a cranberry “screen house” used to grade fresh cranberries; farmland near Lake Placid, NY, in the Adirondack Mountains; Montmorency cherry trees on the Mission Peninsula of northern Michigan; the historic Round Barn in the South Mountain Apple Belt of Adams County, Pennsylvania; the “Sea of Grapes” district of the Lake Erie Concord Grape Belt, near Erie, Penn; a field of cabbages near Shortsville, NY, home to one of the world’s largest sauerkraut factories. All photos copyright by Duncan Hilchey.


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