USDA has released its first-ever survey on direct marketing, and it shows that the local food industry is huge. More than 167,000 U.S. farms sold food through direct marketing, earning $8.7 billion in 2015, the survey shows. The report includes not only fresh produce, but also “value-added foods,” defined as foods like meat and cheese.
The report, titled “Local Food Marketing Practices Survey,” is the first survey USDA has conducted focusing on the economic impact of farm marketing in the U.S. It will be repeated following the 2017 Census of Agriculture, pending approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
The report breaks down direct marketing into the following categories:
The Northeast makes up a full third of sales in the direct-to-consumer category, with $1.0 billion. USDA is includes farmers’ markets, on-site farm stores and stands, off-site farm stores and stands, CSAs, and e-commerce within its direct-to-consumer portion of its survey.
Direct to retail includes farms selling directly to grocery stores and restaurants. Direct to institutes was not further defined in the report.