This summer NGFN turns its resources to giving people solid techniques for making well-educated, strategic decisions. Good Food businesses have a TRIPLE bottom line to answer to, making it even more critical to make the right decisions about fundamental business investments. This summer we look at two top investments (technology and trucks), with an emphasis on food hubs, though the principles apply to any business.
Byte Sized: Choosing Appropriate Technology to Run Your Good Food Business -Register now!Thursday, July 24, 3:30-4:45 ET
Good Food Businesses are complicated. There are many types of exchanges that a business must track accurately, including money, food, and many types of information. And there are a large number of constituents that need to have all of the right things - growers, buyers, consumers, drivers, and warehouse personnel to name a few.
In the 21st century, we must use software to ensure all pieces of our business are accurately served. But how do you choose the right technology to help run your business? A solution that does not fit your business well could cost a lot of money, and worse, lost productivity.
The first step in choosing the right solution is a deep understanding of your own business. With the right analysis you can make technology choices with greater speed, and with confidence. This webinar will give you the tools to perform an accurate analysis of your business technology needs. Although the presentation will focus on food hubs (arguably one of the more complicated Good Food businesses, as a "middle man" interacting with all pieces of the food system), the same theories apply to ALL businesses.
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Ins-TRUCK-tion Manual: Lease, Buy, or Other? - Register Now!Thursday, August 21, 2014 3:30 PM - 4:45 PM EDT
How do you decide whether to lease, own or outsource your trucking?
As we talk to food hubs across the country this question comes up over and over again. Farm Credit of the Virginias and Farm Credit Council have created a new tool that will give you a definitive financial answer to that question.
Moreover, this same type of analysis can be used for any food operation that involves equipment, from farming to processing and beyond.
This webinar will take you through theory and practice of making the right decision for your business.
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Community-Based Food Business Financing
In Austin, Texas a group of folks hungry for local food have cracked the code to access capital – looking to the community. Using a cooperative model they are continuing to innovate. Starting with the knowledge gained from such ventures as a co-op grocer, their success led them to experiment with opening a co-op brew pub. This venture has been another striking success, and are now working to open a cooperative food hub.
This webinar starts with the basics of what a co-op is, how it works, and then discusses accessing community-based capital through what is called a Member Investor Share Offering (MISO, also known as a Direct Public Offering or DPO). By leveraging the dollars from the community, they have been able to finance the start-up and beginning operations of innovative co-ops. Hear what the organizers of these businesses believe to be the secrets to their success, and some suggestions on how you might consider financing your planned operation in this way.
Net Value: An Innovative Approach to the Seafood Supply Chain
As a fisherman, business as usual means heading out to sea, battling the elements, catching as much as you can, and heading back inland to sell what you caught on auction. You do not know what will sell, and you do not know what price it will fetch.
As an institutional, retail or other mid-scale buyer you are also at the mercy of the auction. Budgeting is difficult, and there is generally no means to assure that the fish you are buying has the attributes you value, such as being sustainably caught, allowable bycatch, etc.
Open Ocean Trading created an innovative online marketplace, called FYSH-X, that allows buyers and sellers to trade commercially harvested and farmed seafood products in forward time. This value chain approach means that fishermen can leave the docks secure in the profitability of their trips by locking into a price and selling all or a portion of a catch in advance. And buyers are empowered by having prices they can budget for, and by being able to negotiate directly with vessels for any attributes that are important to them.
In this webinar hear the history and context of the fish trading business, and how the Open Ocean Trading marketplace works. A seller (a fisherman) and an institutional buyer speak from their perspectives about how FYSH-X has changed their businesses. And as always, we end with questions and answers.
Upcoming Spring Webinar
We’re kicking off the season with a look at seafood in our upcoming free webinar on Thursday, April 17 3:30-4:45pm EST, Net Value: An Innovative Approach to the Seafood Supply Chain. Register now!
As a fisherman, business as usual means heading out to sea, battling the elements, catching as much as you can, and heading back inland to sell what you caught on auction. You do not know what will sell, and you do not know what price it will fetch. As an institutional, retail or other mid-scale buyer you are also at the mercy of the auction. Budgeting is difficult, and there is generally no means to assure that the fish you are buying has the attributes you value, such as being sustainably caught, allowable bycatch, etc. Open Ocean Trading created an innovative online marketplace, called FYSH-X, that allows buyers and sellers to trade commercially harvested and farmed seafood products in forward time. This value chain approach means that fishermen can leave the docks secure in the profitability of their trips by locking into a price and selling all or a portion of a catch in advance. And buyers are empowered by having prices they can budget for, and by being able to negotiate directly with vessels for any attributes that are important to them. In this webinar we'll hear the history and context of the fish trading business, and how the Open Ocean Trading marketplace works. We'll also have a fisherman and a buyer speak from their perspectives about how FYSH-X has changed their businesses. And as always, we'll have lots of time for your questions to be answered.
2014 National Food Hub Conference: Building Capacity for Healthy Regional Food Systems
Last month, the Wallace Center and the NGFN Food Hub Collaboration hosted the National Food Hub Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina. Over 400 food hub managers and staff, government and public agencies, representatives from and partner organizations, technical assistance providers, and funders gathered in Raleigh from 48 states for almost 40 workshops and “nuts and bolts” trainings, networking opportunities, peer-to-peer learning, and so much more! Many local food hubs and partner organizations hosted site visits, 11 local farms and 2 food hubs provided delicious food, and participants enjoyed plenaries with state and federal-level government and nonprofit representatives, including Mike Taylor (Deputy Commissioner for Foods at FDA), Dr. Jill Long Thompson (Chair and CEO of the Farm Credit Administration), and Doug O’Brien (Deputy Under Secretary for USDA Rural Development).
Session descriptions are posted (http://ngfn.org/hubs2014), and we are adding sound recordings and slides as they are available.
Check out our archived webinars:
Build, Prepare, Invest: Assessing Food Hub Businesses for Investment Readiness Whether you are an investor considering making an investment in food hubs, a food hub operator preparing for an investment, or a policymaker looking to better understand the food hub sector, Wholesome Wave’s Food Hub Business Assessment Toolkit provides you with the tools to evaluate a food hub business’ readiness for investment.
In this webinar, we introduce the Food Hub Business Assessment Toolkit, which provides a framework for assessing the strengths and weaknesses of food hubs in the areas of business model and strategy, impact potential, market overview, marketing and sales, operations, organization and management, risk mitigation, technology and systems, and finance. The webinar provides an overview of the business assessment process and explore certain areas in depth, presenting Farm Fresh Rhode Island as a case study.
Wholesome Wave’s Healthy Food Commerce Investments division directs capital and business development assistance to food hubs in order to expand the channels for local food so farms can more reliably, safely, and efficiently sell product within their region to wholesale buyers and institutions like hospitals, schools, and large dining outlets.
Food Banks as Regional "Good Food" Partners As we look to scale up the amount of healthy, fair and sustainable local and regional food in our food system, it becomes increasingly important to have storage and delivery mechanisms capable of getting the food to consumers. This infrastructure is very expensive, and the logistics required for efficient use of the resources is very complex.
Food banks across the country have trucks and warehouse space, including cold storage, and have been solving the logistics problem for decades, however traditionally with commodity food, often processed. This is beginning to change.
Several food banks across the country are acutely aware of the benefits of fresh, local food to their consumers, and their community, and are leveraging their resources to support local/regional food systems in innovative ways. Presentations from FoodLink in New York, the Sacramento Food Bank and the Sacramento Area Council of Governments.
Assessment Tools for Improving Farmer Financial Skills Farming is a business, but many farmers are not familiar with many of the tools available to manage their farm finances. The first crucial step to intelligent financial decisions is assessing your current situation, and understanding your historical trends.
This webinar focuses on three assessment-centered tools and programs. First, a tool for farmer trainers themselves - to assess the strengths of the trainer’s knowledge as well as assess students’ knowledge at the outset and their subsequent progress. Second, how Annie's Project, a highly successful program for women farmers, integrates such an assessment tool as a part of the curriculum. And third, an entry level training tool that walks farmers through farm business cash flow analysis in an approachable way.
Assessment is not the end goal of beginning farmer training. However, assessment is fundamental to the success of financial skills education by providing a measurable feedback loop for improvement, adjustment, and documentation of effectiveness.
The National Good Food Network is hosting a great line-up of webinars this spring, beginning with a webinar with Wholesome Wave Investments: “Getting Your Bucks in a Row - the Food Hub Due Diligence Toolkit” on Thursday, February 20 3:30-4:45pm EST. Register now!
The Healthy Food Commerce Investments program of Wholesome Wave has been studying food hubs, and the viability of several individual hubs. This webinar presents a distillation of their work - what makes a solid, invest-able hub business? One key element of food hubs is that they are businesses. Food hub managers, potential investors, and food hub supporters will all benefit hugely from this work, and this presentation.
And don’t forget about the Food Hub Conference March 26-28 in North Carolina! The conference will feature multiple tracks for food hub managers and staff; networking and learning for support organizations, consultants and agencies; "Ask an Expert" - slots of one-on-one time to dig deep with various technical assistance experts; food hub and food business tours; opportunities to learn from your peers, network, and feel a part of an incredibly energetic community; and excellent local food from Eastern Carolina Organics, Firsthand Foods, and other local suppliers.
Webinars from the archives:
We are so excited to announce the upcoming 2014 National Food Hub Conference: March 26-28 in Raleigh, NC! The theme for this year’s conference is “Building Capacity for Healthy Regional Food Systems” and will be a landmark event for food hub managers and staff, technical assistance providers, government and nonprofit support organizations, and agricultural producers. The conference will feature:
Registration opens in November. For more information, visit us at: http://ngfn.org/hubs2014
Tools for Improving Farmer Financial Skills – November 21 – Register now! Farming is a business, but many farmers are not armed with all of the tools to manage their farm finances. Farmer trainers now have a new resource in their arsenal - a curated collection of tools to address this critical issue, and people to help them incorporate them into their curricula. Join us for an introduction to the tool library, and several of the tools.
Food Banks as Regional "Good Food" Partners – December 12 – Register now! Food banks have tremendous infrastructure, and a commitment to feeding people nutritious food. Several food banks across the country are leveraging their resources to support local/regional food systems in innovative ways. Join us for some holiday-time inspiration.
And from the archives:
FSMA Comments for Food Hubs - an NGFN Food Hub Collaboration webinar – view the recording Almost all food hubs are subject to new oversight under the FDA's proposed food safety regulations. These regulations ARE ABLE TO BE CHANGED to better fit your operations, but in order for modifications to suit your needs, you must tell FDA what your needs are.
The means for affecting change is through comments to the FDA. The rules are complicated, and well-reasoned comments will be given more weight as FDA edits the rules.
This webinar is intended to give you the information you need to make a good comment so that regulations meet the need of keeping food safe, but do not seriously negatively affect your business.
Food Hubs and Farm to School Farm to school programs have been very successful at getting good, healthy, local, whole foods to our nation's students. However, some schools and districts find that their school food service professionals, who already have so many responsibilities, have limited time and resources for managing food aggregation logistics. Food hubs hold great promise to help.
In Chicago, Gourmet Gorilla focuses its operations on the school market. With convenient online ordering for schools either on a monthly or daily basis, Gourmet Gorilla offers healthy, sustainable, local food sourced from many different area suppliers. And because Gourmet Gorilla is founded on providing food with values, there is assurance that what is served to the kids is wholesome and good.
In Michigan, Cherry Capital Foods, a food hub with diverse markets, counts schools as an important one. They have had excellent successes, such as a large contract with traditional foodservice provider Chartwells, becoming a USDA approved vendor, and a partnership with a local nonprofit in a farm to school project.
These examples of food hubs enabling farm to school are sure to inspire you to consider working with your area food hubs for your work.
State of the Food Hub - National Survey Results Food hubs - businesses or organizations that actively manage the aggregation, distribution, and marketing of source-identified food products primarily from local and regional producers to strengthen their ability to satisfy wholesale, retail, and institutional demand – hold incredible promise for positive impacts. At the middle of the food value chain, hubs’ influence on the economy, social equity, and the environment can be great.
Proponents and detractors alike, including funders, academics and food hub managers, are seeking real data that can better explain the scope and scale of food hub activities and their influence on their regions. In early 2013, the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems in cooperation with the Wallace Center at Winrock International surveyed over 100 food hubs across the country to understand their businesses, their impacts and their challenges. Join us for this webinar as we present the State of the Food Hub.
Key findings from the report are presented including:
NGFN’s monthly webinars are a great way for us to provide technical assistance to practitioners creating a food system with more Good Food, and to share our work with the public.
The NGFN Food Hub Collaboration is a partnership between Wallace Center at Winrock International, USDA, National Good Food Network, and others. The Collaboration is working to ensure the success of existing and emerging food hubs in the US by building capacity through connection, outreach, research, technical assistance and partnerships. By supporting this crucial player in the value chain we aim to accelerate the growth of regional food systems that make healthy and affordable food available to all communities while fostering viable markets of scale for regionally focused producers.
Most recently, we collaborated on two national food hub studies, through which we identified and measured the financial sustainability of food hubs across the country, and researched the overall state of food hubs in the U.S. We are pleased to present the results of these studies in the following upcoming webinars (and don’t forget to check out our archives)!
Pathways to Food Hub Success: Financial Benchmark Metrics and Measurements for Regional Food Hubs – August 15 – Register now! Food Hubs strengthen regional food systems by supplying local foods to schools, hospitals, restaurants and other institutions, as well as directly to consumers. Their aggregation, sales, and distribution activity increases farm-gate demand for local foods, creating new markets for small producers. But are food hubs economically sustainable? Can food hubs do well by doing good? This webinar will describe the lessons learned from the recent benchmarking study of food hub financial and operational characteristics. The presentation will highlight how successful food hubs across the nation have achieved their mission and goals through financial and business metrics. Understanding this landmark study will benefit all manner of people interested in regional food systems: food hub operators will be able to identify performance standards and improvement strategies; farmers will gain a better understanding of their ability to access new markets through food hubs; researchers and local food advocacy organizations will benefit from the business-based analysis of food hub functions and operational issues; and private lenders and public sector funders will gain insight on strategic investment strategies for food hubs that will lead to positive economic and sustainable outcomes.
State of the Food Hub - National Survey Results – September 19 – Register now! NGFN Food Hub Collaboration, including Michigan State University, USDA Agricultural marketing Service and the Wallace Center surveyed over 100 food hubs across the country to understand their businesses, their impacts, their challenges and their innovations. This webinar accompanies the release of the full report on the state of food hubs in the US today. Register now!
Food Hubs and Farm to School – October 17 – Register now! Farm to school programs have been very successful at getting good, healthy, local, whole foods to our nation's students. But it can be difficult to add aggregation logistics on top of already-taxed school food service professionals. Food hubs hold great promise for bridging that gap. Join us for some inspiring examples of successful food hub-assisted farm to school programs.
June 20, 2013: Raising Dough for Food Businesses – View the Recording
Lack of access to capital can be one of the most significant problems for food businesses. There are more types of capital than ever before to support food businesses, but many don't know they exist, the resources can be challenging to access and even more, it’s hard to tell which type will be the best for each business.
Elizabeth Ü, author of the new book “Raising Dough” (order now), provides a helpful framework for thinking about appropriate financing sources for enterprises, sensitive to their unique values, priorities, and where they are in the business lifecycle. Her presentation is designed primarily for organizations that work with socially responsible food businesses, such as people who work for nonprofits, government offices, economic development companies, consulting firms, lenders, foundations, family offices. Of course the same principles apply to fundraising entrepreneurs themselves, who will leave with lots of tools to work with in their quest to raise money.
Gray Harris, of Coastal Enterprises Inc. (CEI), a community development finance institution (CDFI) in Maine, joins the conversation to give some detailed, illustrative examples of their investments, and investment strategies in regional food systems.
May 16, 2013: Starting a Food Hub: Successful Hubs Share Their Stories – View the Recording
Food hubs hold great promise for a myriad of positive community impacts – economic development and job creation, farmland preservation, environmental sustainability... the list goes on.
But how do you start a food hub?
This webinar brings together the stories of the formation and first year of three different, successful food hubs. Our presenters share some of the best decisions they made … and some of the worst. What types of contacts did they feel really helped their business to thrive? How much money did they need, and how did they get it? Why did they choose their incorporation status? And more...
If you are an emerging hub - in the planning stages - or work with groups who are considering forming a food hub, please listen to this webinar for inspiration and instruction.
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