Most Illinois produce growers do not participate in the wholesale marketing system. Instead, most concentrate their efforts in direct marketing of their produce via pick-your-own operations, roadside stands, farmers' markets, and contracting with food processing firms. Currently only 2-3 percent of the produce arriving in Chicago is of Illinois origin. The wholesale market for produce in Chicago has traditionally been organized around the South Water Market. The small involvement of Illinois producers in the South Water Market is of concern because 1) it may be indicative of problems in the wholesale marketing system used to bring produce to regional retail and hospitality markets, and 2) because it may imply that income generating opportunities for Illinois produce growers are constrained by inefficiencies in the marketing system.


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