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Abstract

This study examines whether food co-ops have competitive advantages or disadvantages in sourcing and promoting local foods using survey data from general managers of food co-ops in the United States. A principal component analysis was used to extract four factors: merchandising, farmer assistance, price/quality negotiations, and farmer development. A cluster analysis assigned food co-ops into three areas based on their competitive advantages. Results show that food co-ops assigned to the cluster with slight competitive disadvantages tend to be smaller, while food co-ops assigned to the two clusters with competitive advantages tend to be larger and more likely to be located in the Midwest. Food co-ops have slight competitive advantages when sourcing and promoting local foods when compared to other supermarkets.

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