Growing number of New York City food manufacturers want local ingredients
An 18-month study conducted by the Pratt Center for Community Development and the New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets (NYSDAM) found that New York City food manufacturers are increasing their demands for locally sourced ingredients, and may even be willing to pay a premium to make their foods from local produce, honey, flour, and other ingredients.
Published in April of this year, the study analyzed data from a pilot project conducted between October 2009 to February 2011 that explored the links between upstate farmers and downstate food processors. Pratt Center researchers surveyed food manufacturers throughout the five boroughs, and discovered a correlation between ingredients commonly used in locally manufactured products and the produce grown in New York State. Among the items were flour, honey, apples, carrots, grains, and onions.
According to the Pratt Center’s report, "Farm to Factory: Linking New York State Producers with New York City Food Processors," demand among the City’s food manufacturers for locally grown ingredients is strong and growing. Results demonstrate that food manufacturers may be willing to pay a premium for New York produce if the concept of "local" adds value to their product.
"Within New York City, there are just under 1,000 food manufacturing establishments, employing more than 14,000 people. These companies are vital to New York City’s current food system and stand to play a major role in meeting the demand for regionally grown foods as well as becoming a market opportunity for New York farmers," said Pratt Center Director Adam Friedman.
The "Farm to Factory" project also identified a number of challenges that may require public and private interventions in order to foster a more localized food system and realize related economic development opportunities.
These challenges involve the difficulty in distributing ingredients to small processors; the limited availability of organic produce and processing capabilities on farms, inconsistent pricing scales, and difficulties getting commitments from manufacturers to buy what is planted. Despite this, there is a tremendous opportunity to foster greater intrastate economic linkages, lower consumers’ carbon footprint, and create jobs by connecting local farmers and food manufacturers.
The Pratt Center provides ongoing sourcing assistance to food manufacturers who are interested in expanding their ingredient profile to include New York State produce.
Text: Amy Aronoff and Adrienne Gyongy
Photo: Courtesy of the Pratt Center for Community Development