On February 21, 2018, CIAS co-hosted a meeting with the City of Madison to convene Madison-area food buyers, including restaurant groups, institutions, grocery retailers, area distributors, and allied professionals to (1) gauge the specifics of demand for regionally sourced products, (2) explore distribution and infrastructure needs and opportunities, and (3) identify areas of greatest potential for future collaboration.
This meeting built on CIAS’s ongoing participatory research on regional food freight and infrastructure as well as the Madison Public Market District Project. Public market meetings hosted by the city have indicated that Madison-area food buyers are interested in purchasing more locally-sourced food and taking part in co-located aggregation, distribution and storage facilities. However, the first phase of the Public Market Project will be retail-oriented, leaving a gap in greater Madison’s food infrastructure development.
Following are the key take-aways from the February 2018 meeting. CIAS is continuing to collaborate with area partners to secure resources to support this work. Please contact Lindsey Day Farnsworth or Michelle Miller for additional information.
Take-Aways from February 21st, 2018 Madison Area Food Distributor/Buyer Meeting
There is strong multi-stakeholder interest in developing collaborative food aggregation/distribution infrastructure in Madison. There is a need for a “backbone” organization to serve one or both of the following functions:
- Short to mid-term: lead subsequent shared infrastructure planning efforts
- Mid to long-term: manage operations
Securing a lease will require a commitment by one or more bankable master lessees/anchor tenants. A commitment from investors will likely require:
- Aggregated demand across Madison-area wholesale food buyers (institutions, retailers, restaurants)—initial strategies could be sector-specific
- A commitment to participate from regional businesses
- A working pro forma based on storage and transport costs, and purchasing data from multiple Madison buyers and distributors
Potential next steps include:
- Incorporating wholesale food infrastructure into Madison Planning & Economic Development priorities and budget allocations
- Collaboration between public, private, and/or non-profit partners to secure resources for (1) leadership, coordination and planning of multi-organizational activities, and/or (2) aggregation and distribution pilot projects