Local Food Sales & Practices

USDA released the results of the recently completed 2020 Local Food Practices Survey in April 2022.  The survey results revealed continued growth in local food sales across the country.  Over one-hundred and forty-seven thousand farmers and ranchers across the U.S. sold $9 billion of local edible food commodities directly to consumers, retailers, institutions, and intermediaries.  The reported level of sales reveals a three percent increase from 2015.  While reported sales increased, the number of operations selling directly decreased by twelve percent (12%). Direct farm sales across different buyer types are shown in Table 1 for the U.S. and Southern region only. In 2020, direct sales to retailers represent 46% of U.S. total direct farm sales, yet account for only 27% of Southern Region direct farm sales. To explore all of the data from the results of this survey, visit https://www.nass.usda.gov/Surveys/Guide_to_NASS_Surveys/Local_Food/

Table 1.  Total U.S. and Southern Region Direct Farm Sales, by Buyer Type, 2015 and 2020

                        SOURCE:  2020 AND 2015 Local Food Marketing Practices Survey, USDA NASS.

While direct farm sales market continues to grow, farm operations using this marketing strategy have declined overall. A close examination of the data shows slight changes between producer locations and the targeted marketing channels.  For example, the Southern region reported an increase in the number of farms selling direct and a decrease in sales volume over the same period. Nationally, 77% of farms with direct sales (consumers, intermediaries, and retailers) sold through direct to consumer channels (Fig. 1). 

Figure 1.  U.S. and Southern Region Direct-to-Consumer Sales by Marketing Practice 2020 ($ million).

A majority (57%) of farms selling food directly were located in metropolitan counties, and these farms accounted for sixty-two percent (62%) of all direct food sales. Lastly, 78% of farms selling food directly marketed their products within a 100-mile radius of their farm operation.

Rainey, Ron, and Celise Weems. “Local Food Sales & Practices“. Southern Ag Today 2(26.5). June 24, 2022. Permalink

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