USDA: 'Locally grown' food a $4.8 billion business

November 14, 2011 - 4:05 AM

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A new U.S. Department of Agriculture report says sales of "local foods" are worth billions of dollars to the nation's economy.

The report found that locally produced foods sold directly to consumers at farmers markets and the like or through intermediaries such as grocers amounted to $4.8 billion in 2008. That's a number several times greater than earlier estimates.

And the Agriculture Department predicts that locally grown foods will generate $7 billion in sales this year.

The report also found that direct sales to consumers almost doubled in the past two decades, from about $650 million, adjusted for inflation, in the early 1990s to about $1.2 billion these days.

The bigger number comes when indirect sales, such as to retailers and restaurants, are added in.