CDS has had many years of experience working all along the local foods value chain, leveraging cooperation to build robust local foods systems representing food producers, distributors and cooperatively owned retail grocery.
- Since 1991, CDS has transformed the consumer-owned grocery co-op sector nationwide through the creation of effective local and national organizations, introduction of financial benchmarking systems, and systems providing consistent governance support.
- We were drivers in creating the Four Cornerstones in Three Stages of Development, a coherent model for starting new co-ops, and were partners in the creation of a new nonprofit (Food Co-op Alliance) specifically devoted to startup grocery co-ops. Since 2006, over 150 new grocery co-ops have opened in the US, with over 100 of them in business more than five years. (That’s an astounding small business survival rate). Today those 100 new co-ops represent over $200 million in new sales, $45-50 million in new payroll and 200,000 owner-members. Four former/retired CDS food co-op consultants have been inducted into the National Cooperative Hall of Fame!
- We have supported growth of local producers through feasibility analysis, business planning, grant writing and other capitalization efforts, securing several million dollars in state and federal grant funds to support these efforts.
- A 2018-20 USDA Local Foods Promotion grant is creating new capacity for grower education and promotion in the Twin Cities local foods distribution sector. We have also analyzed food hubs and other local foods distribution strategies to grow sales.
- Our groundbreaking 2016 Cooperative Local Foods System report detailed the results from 40 years of cooperation: 300-350 local foods producers selling to 17 grocery stores in the extended Twin Cities area owned by over 91,000 consumers and patronized by another 50,000+ non-member shoppers.
We’re always happy to discuss how we can support the growth of local food systems in this region and beyond through research, grant writing, and other technical assistance. Contact us!