Mad River Food Hub


Tags: aggregation, processing, and USA. Driven By: Business. Activities: Farmer Training & Facilitation, Marketing, Processing, and Retail Distribution. Locations: USA. Location Detail: Vermont. Stage: Established. Business Model: Commercial. Function: Aggregation, Distribution, and Processing.

 

The Mad River Food Hub offers a ‘smorgasbord’ of services to local farmers and food businesses including: processing facilities, storage space, distribution into regional cities and towns, and marketing and financial advice. It is the only government- inspected processing, storage and distribution facility for both meat and produce in the region and as of 2012 was servicing 10 farmers.

The meat processing room is fully equipped with all butchering and processing/packaging equipment and can be rented per day. There are also baking and produce processing facilities, and clients also pay to store their products in the on site refrigerator and freezer A delivery truck distributes this produce once a weak to local towns and the nearby city of Burlington.

MRFH processing pics

We think it’s a pretty fascinating model for a number of reasons:

a)  The MR Hub operates as a for-profit facility. Although it received government grants to finance construction, Robin Morris the founder is determined to make it a sustainable, viable business. ‘I don’t think it would viable in the long term if we had to go begging for uncertain funding each year’ he was quoted in this article. It will be interesting to track whether this model of aggregated processing washes out over time.

b)          In providing access to state of the art processing and storage facilities that pass government health standards it is addressing head on the prohibitive barriers that face small producers who want to process their products, and need to somehow be efficient and economical in competition with big operators.

MRGH plan

Floor plan of the Mad River Hub

 Would this model work in Australia? The stringency of food safety licencing and transport legislation, as well as the cost of processing equipment is a significant barrier for small producers, so a facility that offers these functions and marketing and distribution to boot paints an interesting pathway worth exploring.