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NGFN Cluster Call: Innovations in Value Chain Infrastructure - Red Tomato

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Our monthly “NGFN Cluster Calls” are interactive webinars that give you the opportunity to learn and connect with on-the-ground practitioners and experts. The August NGFN Cluster Call will feature Michael Rozyne of Red Tomato discussing innovations in their work. See below for speaker and agenda information.

  • Webinar
When Aug 20, 2009
from 08:30 PM to 09:45 PM
Where Online
Contact Name
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Michael Rozyne,
Co-Director, Red Tomato


Research suggests there's not enough locally-grown fruits and vegetables in supply to satisfy the growing consumer demand. Nevertheless, in every region of the country, there is surplus production during summer that drives commodity prices so low it threatens the survival of mid-size farms that rely on wholesaling. This paradox is real. And while direct-to-consumer-markets (farmers markets, CSAs, farmstands, etc.) are thriving all over the country, the sum total of direct market outlets will not fulfill more than 4-5% of the market for fresh produce. What about the other 95%? What innovations are needed so mid-size farms, the farms we need to supply the other 95%, stay viable selling wholesale?

Red Tomato, a small nonprofit business in Massachusetts, is the marketing agent for a network of 40 mid-size farms in the Northeast. Red Tomato orchestrates their supply into more than 200 supermarkets in the greater Boston area, and as of recently, in the greater NYC metro area. To satisfy farms and deliver high-quality produce to distributors, Red Tomato's value-added strategy is to differentiate products, or decommodify them, through branding, local and farm identity, packaging, variety choice and diversity, eco certification, aggregation, and through intense focus on quality control to maximize flavor and freshness.

Can Red Tomato build a regional supply chain that maintains the highest quality, and satisfies both farmers and consumers alike? This cluster call (webinar) will explore this question as well as some of the contradictions in the system, such as seasonality vs. the year-round supply that is required to compete in the produce industry.