October 14, 2006: Consumers will soon be seeing more local food from Michigan farmers on shelves and menus around the state. The Fremont Cooperative Produce Co. will partner with Michigan Food & Farming Systems – MIFFS on a Julian-Stille Value-Added Agriculture Fund grant to strengthen food supply chains in Michigan.
Michigan produces more than 125 varieties of agricultural products and services. However, those products don’t always find their way to food distributors, restaurants and institutions in Michigan where demand for local food is growing.
Currently, Michigan-based food service distributors purchase large quantities of fruit from outside the state and United States. In many cases, Michigan fruit farmers growing apples, cherries and blueberries, representing 6% of Michigan farms, have the capacity to supply fresh, local fruit to food service distributors. But Michigan growers have been passed by as potential suppliers due to weak links along the food supply chain.
Washington apples or California cherries are easily found in institutional cafeterias or on restaurant menus. The supply chain for high volumes of fruit from across the country and world is currently more adept at delivering those large quantities to retailers. However, quality of food, equitable grower compensation and economic sustainability appear to get lost in transit.
Through this grant, MIFFS and the Fremont Cooperative will work to link local fruit growers to food distribution organizations and customers, getting more Michigan produce into the food supply chain and bringing more value to farmers and consumers.
For more information, please contact the MIFFS office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 517-432-0712.