Joanna Benoit of Western Mass Food Processing Center, Lotty Roozenkrans of Vermont Food Venture Center,
and Jen Faigel of CommonWealth Kitchen meet in Greenfield, Mass. (Jennifer Obadia)
The New England Food Processors Collective is launching into action. RiverWoods Senior Living and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center have both engaged in forward contracting agreements for the 2019 season. Deliveries began in July. Together these institutions will procure over $30,000 from the three processors participating in the collective. This is important to the bottom line for these businesses and for the development of the overall collective.
The collective is testing the use of forward contracts as a core strategy to help food processors grow their businesses and thereby create more jobs and a more stable income for regional farmers. Forward contracts are an arrangement between a buyer and a seller to purchase certain products and a certain price in the future for a limited time period. The guaranteed sale helps remove some of the risk for the producers when they invest in efforts to scale up their production.
Over the spring the collective visited several institutions to provide taste tests of their products. Across Commonwealth Kitchen, Western Mass Food Processing Center, and the Vermont Food Venture Center the members of the collective offer over 25 different value-added added products sourced from New England growers. Their offerings range from peeled and chopped root vegetables, to frozen berries, to sauces and purees.
In addition to this small pilot, the collective has been creating a business plan for the development of the full operation that will include a centralized website with ordering capacities, and coordinated distribution. In the interim, they continue to look for additional institutional partners and aim to engage at least ten institutions in forward contracting in 2020.