Small Distributors Focus On Getting Local Produce To The Masses

Eric Hahn is on the front lines of a growing movement to increase sales of Michigan-grown foods in Michigan, but hes not a farmer or a specialty grocer. The 42-year-old Charlevoix resident runs Locavore Food Distributors, one of a handful of small companies in the state that are playing a crucial role in expanding the local foods market. They are building stronger links between Michigans small farms and other food producers and its restaurants, grocery stores and schools.

These small distributors are carving out their own niche in an industry long dominated by giants like Sysco and U.S. Foodservice that dont specialize in Michigan-grown foods. The newcomers efforts are generating more profits for the states farmers and making it easier for consumers and businesses to obtain locally grown foods.

This is a fairly new model for Michigan, said Christine Lietzau, program manager for Select Michigan, which promotes Michigan foods to consumers and retailers. Its certainly becoming more prevalent.

Locavore sells fruits, vegetables and other foods grown in northern and western Michigan. It already has 600 customers, including Clarkston Public Schools, the Plum Markets and the Sweet Lorraine restaurants.

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