New Jersey Shellfish growers were seeking ways for cooperatively expanding their markets. The farmers recognize that to increase their on-farm income, they need to increase the volume of what they produce, eliminate losses due to the perishable nature of food, minimize transportation and packaging expenses, and receive the highest price for what they sell. To do all this is nearly impossible for a single farm operation, but by collectively pooling their resources and efforts through the cooperative, they potentially can accomplish their goals.
Community Supported Agriculture farms, food cooperatives and chefs, all show they are eager to support the development of these shellfish cooperatives and that their customers are enthusiastic about adding local shellfish and other varieties of local seafood to their diet. Connecting to shellfish farmers expands the range of food products and meal choices for customers. Cultivating the direct-marketing channel brings the local product directly to the eater in a convenient retail or restaurant setting. These new marketing channels could potentially help farmers extract the “local and environmental sustainability premium” by assisting them to organize among themselves to lower per farm transportation and marketing costs.
Barriers and logistics still need to be worked through including renting a facility, establishing a distribution system, forming relationships with other fisherman to increase their product mix, and the development of administrative systems including website, marketing, invoicing and accounting systems. By having more control over their business, they can break away from the lack of transparency and commitment they currently struggle with in their wholesale market options.