By Elizabeth Vaughan, Food Systems Coordinator
From Legoland to local hospitals, good food purchasing has increased as a result of the 2015 Let’s Go Local! Produce Showcase. Attendees from the annual Showcase event were surveyed six months later to identify new business deals made as a result of their attendance at the October 23, 2015 event. The results are in, and here is what we found:
- Surveyed buyers have reported purchasing $80,550 in local and sustainable foods as a result of their attendance at the Showcase.
- Surveyed growers and exhibitors reported $62,000 in additional sales.
- Surveyed exhibitors identified 16 new customers acquired as a result of their attendance.
- A majority of attending buyers felt that they “Established or strengthened valuable business and community relationships.”
- Buyers also reported the following as a result of their attendance:
- One has adopted policies to prioritize purchasing and serving more local foods since October 2015
- Three have increased farm-to-institution programming (i.e. nutrition education, local foods marketing, etc.)
- One has begun discussions with administration on developing partnerships with local farmers
CHIP had distributed “Buyer Interaction Sheets” to the exhibitors during the event to help document the buyers who wanted additional follow up. Through sheet observations, we saw that each exhibitor made approximately 4.2 specific business connections.
For the past two years, we’ve been tracking the results of this event and for the first time, we have succeeded in collecting a monetary amount for the business connections reported. This year’s survey and tracking efforts has captured an increase in the number of successful business connections and sales. We hope the 2016 showcase event brings in even more revenue for our local food and farm businesses, and more good food to our local institutions that serve over 1,000,000 San Diegans each year.
“The event was great in helping us connect with more farms, local food purveyors and non-profits that are working to promote the local food movement.”
The increased sales a result of Let’s Go Local! Are a microcosm of a local food movement finding creative ways to creatively meet increasing demand for local food. According to the most recent data available through USDA, demand for local food increased $1.3 billion from $4.8 billion in 2008 to $6.1 billion in 2012 (USDA, Trends in U.S. Local and Regional Food Systems). By continuing with small, realistic changes, our regional institutions are helping to grow a good food economy.
For the 2016 Good Food Showcase, to be held on December 2nd, we plan to provide more support to our regional food and farm businesses and an even more diverse set of buyers for our farms to choose from. This year’s event will continue to build the good food movement in San Diego County, support local farms and the good food economy, and bring more fresh, local, healthy foods to people throughout San Diego.
We hope to see you at the 2016 December 2nd Showcase event!