Whole Foods Offers Free Drop-Offs for Floridian Farmers

Discussion
Feb 14, 2011

Whole Foods is launching a program in Florida offering local farms
free use of its stores throughout the state as drop-off and pick-up points
for weekly deliveries under the state’s Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA)
programs.

According to The Miami Herald, the supermarket is rolling out
the program across the state after testing it with two farms at five Florida
stores. One caveat is the store has to have enough room to hold the drop-off
boxes.

The first CSA program in the U.S. started in 1986 in New England but
such programs have been significantly expanding in recent years with the popularity
of fresh food, according to the article. Registered CSAs in the U.S. more than
tripled over the last five years to 4,000, according to Local Harvest, a national
farmer’s
directory. The average CSA has about 100 members.

For $20 to $40 a week, members
of a CSA program can buy fresh food from local farms at prices similar to the
grocery store. A downside is that they can’t order what they like, but typically
get whatever was picked fresh the previous day. They also benefit more from
good harvests and less from bad ones.

For smaller farms, Whole Food drop-offs
eliminate the chore of driving product each night across the state to customers’
homes while exposing scores of people to the CSA concept.

"I see this as the future of our business," said Teena Borek of
Teena’s
Pride, a farm in South Dade, FL. "The CSA is how the small family farm
will survive. You have someone to buy your crop that appreciates it."

Russ
Benblatt, spokesman for Whole Foods in Florida, told the Herald that
the program is a natural extension of the chain’s efforts to support
local agriculture. At least 20 percent to 30 percent of the produce at each
Whole Foods store is sourced locally. It has pledged to educate customers about
CSA and promote such programs with in-store signage. Although the drop-offs
offer some competition, it is also hoped to drive traffic.

"They may end up buying a little less from us," said Mr. Benblatt. "But
at the end of the day, everybody wins because more and more people are going
to support local agriculture."

Discussion Questions: What do you think of Whole Foods’ support of Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs? What’s the likelihood that such programs will catch on with other grocers across the country?

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9 Comments on "Whole Foods Offers Free Drop-Offs for Floridian Farmers"


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Charles P. Walsh
Guest
Charles P. Walsh
10 years 3 months ago

Whole Foods’ efforts both at carrying local produce as well as offering local producers to centralize their distribution of produce are noteworthy.

While the act of offering local producers a centralized location to distribute online purchases may seem small to some, in my opinion it could be a catalyst for other important uses of existing logistic and infrastructure surpluses.

As an example, there may be a way for CSA, in cooperation with local/state officials, to provide incentives for companies who can find innovative ways to support local agriculture through the sharing of unused capacity such as backhaul opportunities with empty trucks leaving stores.

This is a good story and it is my hope that such progress might lead to other progressive ways to support local agriculture.

David Biernbaum
Guest
10 years 3 months ago

Whole Foods is able to do a lot of things that other retailers are not able to do because Whole Foods has a pricing structure allowing them to do so.

Anne Howe
Guest
10 years 3 months ago

Whole Foods is acting once again like a Fearless Leader. I give them credit for being unafraid to push boundaries and slay the sacred cows in an industry where many others are not acting boldly.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
10 years 3 months ago

If only I lived close enough to make it beneficial.

Roger Saunders
Guest
10 years 3 months ago

A solid example of making “shared values” come to life. Whole Foods is tying in with a useful support program to local agriculture, consumers have the opportunity to secure fresher produce / product, and Whole Foods is building traffic.

Next “easy steps” are to measure and monitor results, and if they prove beneficial to all groups, scale up the practice. Whole Foods does a good job of keeping their associates in the loop as to how and why they are taking steps like this one. They become the front line to share the information with customers walking in the door.

Good move.

Anne Bieler
Guest
Anne Bieler
10 years 3 months ago

What a positive step forward–making that connection is a huge benefit for the local farmers. Helps the entire community to eat healthier; great example!

Bernice Hurst
Guest
10 years 3 months ago

Brilliant whichever way you look at it. I spent years trying to persuade farm shops in my area to let individual producers use them as pick up points. It builds customer loyalty and gets increased footfall, frequently generating extra sales for the store. What can be bad about all that?

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
10 years 3 months ago

This sounds like a great program for Whole Foods, or for any supermarket, here in the Sacramento, CA area. Wow, do we have a bunch of local growers here in NorCal! The Farmers Markets might dry up, but many of them operate in supermarket parking lots anyhow. And why is a state-sponsored Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) program necessary? Why can’t a supermarket chain just do it themselves? For individual families, the weekly charge of $20 to $40 per week is steep, but would work for restaurants very well. For families, a lesser charge would be more appropriate.

Robert Suval
Guest
Robert Suval
10 years 2 months ago
My idea is to unite countries in the golden rule by creating massive irrigation projects like Roosevelt’s Tennessee Valley Authority to build water treatment facilities to increase produce production in the dry arid areas similar to methods that are used by Israel. Hundreds of millions of people who till the soil can be relocated to work for farmers in other countries to relieve overcrowding and shortages of food similar to places like Lagos, Nigeria. Certainly the Arab world would be receptive to spending money to pay contractors to increase produce production as an alternative to a reducing of the world’s dependence on oil. The brightest spot to all of this would be to build new cities around this agricultural hub that provide private ownership of land for its citizens. This is one way of developing the Middle East that could prevent further erosion in the balance of nature saving current massive forest devastation and eradication of animal species. Las Vegas, Nevada, the biggest user of water in the world, is an example of a Middle… Read more »
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