Community Supported Agriculture – New Models for Changing Markets

CSA Changing Business Model

From “Community Supported Agriculture – New Models for Changing Markets” from the USDA:

“The CSA business model has evolved significantly as entrepreneurs and market forces have opened opportunities for the implementation of the model in ways quite unlike the early CSA operations. New products, season extensions, multi-farm collaborations, new shareholder groups, marketing collaborations with different organizations, innovative aggregation and delivery strategies, new urban production connections, and health and wellness alliances are among the current trends reshaping the CSA business.

This study proposed to identify the trends in CSA business model adaptation including changes in product innovation and profitability drivers as the CSA marketing model evolves to address emerging consumer preferences and direct marketing opportunities. By conducting a national survey of CSAs, researchers hoped to:

  • Describe the current use of the CSA business model, including scale and regional differences;
  • Identify the role and strategic dynamics of the CSA model in a local foods business start-up;
  • Identify the emerging and adapted uses of the CSA model to pursue scale individually and through cooperation and pursue alternative local foods markets; and
  • Examine perspectives of CSA operators on expected future business and market innovations.

These objectives will yield important new knowledge regarding the trends and trajectory of CSAs, providing perspectives on changes in the CSA business model for consideration by current and prospective managers, and identifying future research and education program needs for CSAs for supporting agencies such as Extension, USDA, and local food Nongovernmental Organizations.

Many of the themes and issues featured in the national survey were informed by a series of focus group interviews conducted with CSA operators in six geographically diverse parts of the country. The results of these focus group interviews appear in summary format in the latter part of this report.”