Gates and Kellogg Foundation Study Finds Growing Competitiveness for Community Food Enterprises (CFEs)

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Gates and Kellogg Foundation Study Finds Growing Competitiveness for Community Food Enterprises (CFEs)

Profiles of 24 U.S. and international locally owned food businesses reveal critical drivers for economic development
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Gates & Kellogg Foundation Study Finds Growing Competitiveness for Community Food Enterprises (CFEs)
Wednesday, December 9, 2009 - 9:00am

CONTENT: Press Release

(3BLMedia/theCSRfeed) December 9, 2009 - Wallace Center at Winrock International and the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) announce the release of Community Food Enterprise: Local Success in a  Global Marketplace, a groundbreaking study of 24 locally owned food businesses. These community food enterprises (CFEs) appear poised for sustainable growth and competitiveness both locally and globally. A companion website at offers additional findings and analysis.  

“Our case studies show how community food enterprises have transformed factors that once stymied their performance and profitability – smaller scale, modest ambition, limited local ownership, and high social standards – into powerful competitive advantages vis-à-vis multinational food businesses,” says Michael Shuman, Research and Public Policy Director for BALLE and lead author of the study. “We have identified several critical ways CFEs provide invaluable tools for economic development and anti-poverty efforts worldwide.”
The study draws on detailed analyses of 12 U.S. and 12 international CFEs (complete list of CFEs below), which include food-related producers, processors, grocers, restaurants, training programs and other businesses. It reviews each business’ financials and structure, and utilizes the B Corporation Survey tool to assess social and environmental performance.
Among the key findings of the report:  
CFEs harness the advantages of local ownership. Local food is not just the proximity of production location and short supply chains. Equally important is local ownership of food enterprises, which stimulates local income, wealth, jobs, taxes, charitable contributions, tourism, and entrepreneurship. 

CFEs take many shapes and sizes.
 CFEs defy common assumptions. They are not necessarily small, they are not naïve about business, they often reach into global markets, and they effectively take on myriad business frameworks (for-profit, non-profit, co-op, public-private partnership, sole proprietorship).  
CFEs are competing effectively. CFEs are deploying more than a dozen interesting strategies for competing effectively against multinational enterprises. Many CFEs take characteristics that were once regarded as liabilities – smaller size, limited capital, high social standards – and turn them into competitive assets.

CFEs are going global. The local food movement, once thought to be a phenomenon in a few wealthier countries, is taking root globally.

CFEs are strategic economic development tools. Economic developers, both in the U.S. and internationally, would be wise to give CFEs greater priority as vehicles for creating new jobs and ownership opportunities; improving job quality in traditional economic sectors like farming; generating individual and community wealth; and improving public health and community well-being.
The companion website, presents the complete findings, as well as additional CFE features and information on how the identified business strategies can be successfully employed among existing and emerging CFEs around the world.

Community Food Enterprise: Local Success in A Global Marketplace is the result of a partnership between the Wallace Center at Winrock International and BALLE, and is jointly funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  

“The report and website offer solid evidence that investing in the success of CFEs will forge a link between local food and local economic development,” says Dr. John Fisk, Director of the Wallace Center at Winrock International and Project Co-Director.   “CFEs are really a logical place for local food advocates and local economic developers to pursue their common goals and build stronger communities and stronger local economies.”


Wallace Center at Winrock International supports entrepreneurs and communities as they build a new, 21st century food system that is healthier for people, the environment, and the economy. The Center builds and strengthens links in the emerging chain of businesses and civic efforts focused on making good food – healthy, green, fair, affordable food – an everyday reality in every community. Winrock International is a nonprofit organization, with main offices in Little Rock, AR and Arlington, VA, which works with people in the United States and around the world to increase economic opportunity, sustain natural resources, and protect the environment.

The Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) is North America's fastest growing network of socially responsible businesses, comprised of over 80 community networks representing over 21,000 independent business members across the U.S. and Canada. BALLE networks create local living economies through the building blocks of independent retail, sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, green building, zero-waste manufacturing, and community capital. Founded in 2001, BALLE works to foster vibrant communities, a healthy natural environment, and prosperity for all.

Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation supports children, families, and communities as they strengthen and create conditions that propel vulnerable children to achieve success as individuals and as contributors to the larger community and society.


Cari Beth Head, Wallace Center at Winrock Int’l, 571.230.2969
Wendy Wasserman



Keywords: BALLE | Business Alliance for Local Living Economies | CFEs | Community Food Enterprises | Gates Foundation | Kellogg Foundation | Wallace Center | Wallace Center at Winrock International

CONTENT: Press Release