Ebb and Flow at CPW
(Or, why things get busy in the winter in the warehouse business)
We already know that Cooperative Partners Warehouse (CPW) plays a singularly pivotal role in helping
create a local food system here in the Twin Cities. They are instrumental in helping many farmers get to
market and keeping co-ops and restaurants stocked year-round with organic produce. But how do those
demands change over the course of a year? What stories do the numbers tell us?
We looked at the top 20 producers CPW bought from in 2013 and broke these sales down by month. Then we
categorized those partners as local (from MN, WI, ND, SD, or IL) and not-local (anywhere else), and came up with
this handy graph:
And then we asked Rhys Williams
at CPW to explain what happened.
It turns out that late July and
early August are pretty slow for
the warehouse. Sales overall (and
especially local) go down because
farmers have different ways to
reach consumers, including farmers’
markets and direct delivery to stores.
You can see that big drop pretty
clearly. But then, local items start to
pick back up, because the volume
of available crops increases—things
like potatoes, carrots and tomatoes.
School also starts, so more families
are shopping. Local sales continue to
climb as the variety of local produce
increases through the fall. Instead of
buying from California, CPW buys
from farmers in the region during
these months. But once winter hits,
local produce is scarce and the
warehouse starts bringing in more
and more produce from farther away
to meet customer demand.
So there you have it. CPW’s flexibility
to meet farmers’ needs means some
slow slumps in the heat of summer,
but now that the snow is flying, so
are the pallets and forklifts.