Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Community Development and Applied Economics

First Advisor

David Conner


Food hubs have been discussed as a promising option for scaling-up the local food system while maintaining close relationships and shared responsibility amongst producers and consumers. Food hubs have the capacity to share important messages about food safety, origin, and production methods with consumers, however little is known about if, and how, food hubs communicate the value of local food to their buyers. This is crucial when assuring value to the consumer, which is necessary for the long-term sustainability of the food hub model. It is important to know more about these methods and practices because these messages can impact the long-term viability of food hubs and local agriculture, as well as community health and economic stability.

This thesis explores the motivation behind why buyers chose to buy through food hubs, what information provided by food hubs is useful in marketing and selling local products, and how buyers allocate their money and their time that allows them to efficiently purchase local products. A mixed methods approach was used to gather data. Qualitative research methods were used in conducting semi-structured interviews with key informants. Interview questions focused on local food marketing strategies and practices, motivations for buying local, consumer behavior, firmographic characteristics, communication, challenges, opportunities, and relationships. In addition, data was collected through an online survey that followed the same themes. These themes were identified through a review of alternative food network literature, which identified gaps in knowledge on the buyer-side of the food hub value chain.

The themes that emerged from these semi-structured interviews and online survey have been used to better understand buyer motivations for purchasing local food through food hubs, how buyers make use of the information, services, and marketing material provided by food hubs, and what strategies buyers use to integrate local food purchasing efficiently into their budget.



Number of Pages

124 p.