Day 4 – Following the value chain… Step 1 Demand

Day 4 – Following the value chain… Step 1 Demand

Value chain mapping takes a product from its place of sale to its place of origin seeing how transactions and relationships form throughout the process by asking the question, “why?”  This often leads to new insights as to how partners can work together better and more creatively.   In value chain mapping, the first step involves the invisible buyers, the retail outlets that make product available to the public. In our case this is the Brattleboro Food Co-op. Yesterday I interviewed the co-op buyer to find out about his role in the value chain and what buying quinoa meant to him. Here’s what I learned:

Quinoa sold in bulk at the co-op.

Quinoa sold in bulk at the co-op.

A 25 pound sack of organic white quinoa real (pronounced ree’-al) from Bolivia is sold loose at $6.69 a pound. (While we’re thinking of pronounciation, quinoa is pronounced: keen’-o-ah).  The co-op bulk buyer purchases red, black and mixed quinoa, though the white quinoa  is the most popular. For simplicity, this study follows the more popular USDA certified organic quinoa real. The sack of quinoa I am tracking was purchased from United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI) in May 2015 for $88.85, representing a $167 retail value for the co-op. This 47% mark up is typical for the products sold in bulk . Each week the co-op purchases about one to two sacks of quinoa real from UNFI. In total about six bags (151 pounds) of quinoa real were sold in loose bulk at the co-op for the month of May, representing 118 individual transactions at an average of 1.3 pounds each with a retail cost of $8.70. The co-op buyer reports that loose quinoa sales and prices, both wholesale and retail, have stayed steady at the co-op over the past year or so.

Tomorrow’s post: The co-op quinoa buyer talks about the difference between organic, fair trade and conventional quinoa, costs and consumer demand.

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