Connecting local growers and producers to institutional markets is a growing movement around the country. The New England states are seen as one of the most advanced regions in the Farm-to-Institution movement with active programs in every state working to establish local procurement options for schools, hospitals, colleges and universities. Because of the individual state advances we are now seeing growing demand to build programs across state lines to secure our regional food system and connect rural growers and producers with urban markets.
Local fruits and vegetables are an easy first step for an institutional buyer and though some barriers still exist (e.g. price, distribution, seasonality and ease of preparation), demand is on the rise and supply is increasing to meet that demand. Now, institutional demand for local protein is emerging, but market coordination has been a significant challenge, with one of the biggest barriers being price. Institutional markets require a less expensive protein that can be prepared in a variety of ways to meet a high volume of consumers. With over 93,000 cattle marketed from the six New England states every year, there is great potential to come together to support a regional ground beef and/or dairy beef market. Since local ground beef from beef cattle is often out of the price range for an institutional buyer there may be the potential for ground dairy beef. Dairy beef may provide the institutional buyer with a high quality local product at a much more affordable cost.
In Vermont, the demand for local beef has been noted in two Vermont studies, the Vermont Ground Beef Marketing Study, completed in 2006, and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture Food and Markets Local Meat in Schools Study, conducted in 2008. In order to maximize demand for New England-produced beef and dairy beef, comparable research is now needed at the regional level. We are soliciting proposals for regional market analysis to determine the potential for a New England ground beef or dairy beef product.
The Vermont Agency of Agriculture is taking the lead on this initiative, with additional funding from the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, and technical support from Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
Objective and Scope of Work
The Vermont Agency of Agriculture is seeking a qualified individual or organization to work with the Agency, New England State Departments of Agriculture, Northeast Farm to School Network and Health Care without Harm to determine the demand and infrastructure needed to support an institutional market for New England ground beef.
1. Review of completed research, secondary literature and data: Review existing research, identify related literature and data.
2. Conduct statistically valid research: Survey institutional buyers cross the region to determine the market segmentation, volume, actual product i.e. frozen bulk, patties, precooked and/or hormone free, price point and preferred distribution of a dairy beef product.
a. How many institutions are interested in sourcing a local beef product, and where are these institutions located?
b. What is the total volume of institutional demand?
c. What are the price points that institutional buyers are willing to pay, and what is the volume that could be sold at each price point?
d. What product qualities are demanded by the institutional buyer?
i. No antibiotics
iii. “Face of the farmer” (identity-preserved from farm to buyer)
iv. How local? Regional? Within-state?
e. What form is the product needed in? Fresh or frozen? Bulk or patties?
f. How frequently would institutions need deliveries?
g. Which distributors are institutions currently using to source their beef, and would they be willing/able to work with a new distributor?
h. Are institutions already locked into contracts with beef suppliers, and, if so, when do these contracts expire? Would they be willing to source a local product if they could do so contractually?
3. Supply Chain analysis: Examining the New England beef supply chain, pinpoint opportunities and constraints for increasing institutional purchase of local beef.
a. Distributors: Which distributors are already servicing institutions, and how might they be brought in as partners? How might distributors already committed to the farm-to-institution market access new buyers? What is the per-pound price of distribution?
b. Processors: Based on existing data on slaughter and processing capacity, could our existing processing infrastructure meet the institutional demand for local beef? What is the per- pound price of processing?
c. Producers: Given the institutional price point, is this a feasible market to enhance beef and dairy beef producer viability? Might the institutional market offer dairy beef producers a higher price than they are currently getting at auction on the commodity market?
Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets will use this study to guide regional action around increasing access to institutional markets for New England beef and dairy beef producers. The proposed plan and implementation strategy will be shared with interested producers, distributors, institutional buyers, state departments of agriculture and other service providers. The contractor is expected to work with partner organizations across the New England region. This work will include gaining information on state farm-to-institution programs, as well as information and opinions from institutional buyers, distributors, and producers for implementation strategies. A project plan must be completed and agreed to by stakeholders as the first step of the work to be performed. The project plan should include milestones, dependencies, and periodic updates on status of work and major findings.
The findings and recommendations should be compiled in a summary format that allows the report to be used for further product/concept development, operational considerations, and marketing planning and activity. The contractor should include insights and recommendations based on initial findings and their expertise in this area of product certification, labeling, and marketing. All reports and supporting documents should be delivered in electronic format with one hard copy.
RFP Submission Guidelines
When responding to the above objectives, the bidder should elaborate on what type, or types, of research (in-store intercepts, phone interviews, mail survey, web-based, or other) are recommended and why. Considerations for cost, time, and statistical validation should be made when making the recommendation.
1. Statement of project objectives
Specific operational details for this concept will be further defined using the outcomes of this work.
December 16, 2010: RFP issued
February 2, 2011: RFP due date
February 15, 2011: Final Decision
February 21, 2011: Contract signed
March-July, 2011: Research
August 31, 2011: Proposed Due Date for Report
How to Respond
Please respond in writing, preferably by email by February 1, 2011. Responders need to document relevant experience in product certification and labeling (may attach a CV or resume) and clearly present the steps proposed to complete this work. Responses should be formal, include a fixed price bid for each component and a timeline for completion of the study.
Chelsea Bardot Lewis
VT Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets
116 State St. Drawer 20
Montpelier, VT 05620-2901