University of Maryland Extension

Results of First Local Food Marketing Practices Survey Released

Ginger S. Myers
Farm Scene

Mastering Marketing - January 2017

Just before Christmas, the USDA released the results of its first Local Food Marketing Practices Survey. The survey asked about the marketing of food directly from farm producers directly to consumers, retailers, institutions, and a variety of local food intermediaries such as distributors and wholesalers that market and sell locally branded products. Information was asked on local food marketing practices during 2015, including items such as:

  1. Value of food sales by marketing practice (i.e. farmers markets, CSAs, restaurants, roadside stands, food hubs, and more)
  2. Commodity and value-added sales by marketing channel
  3. Federal farm program participation

Indicative of the “buy local” trend, survey results concluded that more than 167,000 U.S. farms locally produced and sold food, including fresh and value-added products, through direct marketing practices. This resulted in $8.7 billion in revenue in 2015 (see table 1 for the top 5 states).
Table 1

Neighboring Pennsylvania led the U.S. in the number of farms selling directly to consumers, with more than 6,000 operations engaged in direct to consumer sales. California led in sales, earning $467 million. The value of the total direct food sales in 2015 in Maryland was $84.3 million.

Survey findings support using locally targeted marketing efforts. Results revealed that more than 80 percent of all direct market food sales occurred within 100 miles of the farm, and that most farms selling to consumers were less than 20 miles from their largest grossing marketplace. Only 8 percent of farms selling directly to consumers across the nation did so via online marketplaces, though 73 percent of all farms using direct marketing practices had internet access last year.

Several options are available for accessing the 2015 Local Food Marketing Practices survey data. Data is available via a searchable database called Quick Stats. Additional formats of summary results are available. Visit to access the information online.

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