Local Economies Project | The New World Foundation

Local Economies Project

Ginsberg’s Foods and Red Tomato; Connecting Local Farms to Markets

 

Upstate New York food distributor Ginsberg’s Foods and the non-profit Red Tomato are teaming up to enhance the local food delivery system and connect local farms to markets.   With a new business line of local food logistics, Ginsberg’s is offering direct food delivery service overnight from farms to grocery stores.   Informally coined “Fed Ex for Local Food”, the model has the potential to open important new sales avenues for farm products in the Hudson Valley.

This is good news for small and mid-sized local farmers, many of whom are finding themselves left out of a food system increasingly dominated by a handful of national distributers and retailers. The industry’s shift towards high volume inventory systems and consolidated trucking has meant more food being moved over long distances from large-scale farm operations.   It has also meant fewer ways for local farmers with diverse, smaller orders to get their products to retail outlets. In spite of a growing consumer demand for local food, family farms in the Northeast have struggled to stay vibrant as their ability to sell wholesale has been diminishing.

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To address these challenges and meet the new retail demand, Ginsberg’s created a subsidiary called Hudson Valley Logistics and Distribution, LLC, and began working this past summer with Red Tomato. The non-profit, headed by its founder Michael Rozyne, organizes and markets local food from farms across the region. An LEP grantee partner since 2012, Red Tomato facilitates a growing network of farmers, institutions and retailers with a concentrated mission to “deliver fresh, great tasting produce while cultivating a more sustainable ethical food system.”

This collaborative approach enabled the establishment of Ginsberg’s new LLC. Unlike the typical arrangement whereby farm products are run through the distributor’s purchasing, sales, and inventory systems, in this new “transportation only” model, the food is more like freight. Ginsberg’s provides the truck and driver, while Red Tomato choreographs the essential marketing and logistical steps in between the farm and the retailer, steps that most farmers don’t have time or resources to execute on their own.

Helping to facilitate the creation of the new LLC was another one of LEP’s grantee partners: Hudson Valley Agribusiness Development Corporation (HVADC). HVADC worked as a facilitator and helped secure a critical $400,000 performance loan from the Empire State Development Corporation for equipment, software, and vehicles for Ginsberg’s burgeoning local food operations.

Click here for “Wholesaler is Fed Ex for Local Food” published in the Albany Times Union, 11-24-14.

Above: Local produce display at Hannaford, photo courtesy of Red Tomato.

 

 

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