Detroit Food System Study

The Detroit Food and Fitness Collaborative (DFFC), an organization comprised of 40 members that includes community stakeholders throughout Detroit, has worked for years to create a vibrant, local, and equitable food system. Despite many policy, business, and community engagement wins, the DFFC has pushed for an all-encompassing approach that articulates the impacts, benefits, and potential of a localized food system on Detroit’s economy in order to garner major resources and investment to the system.

DFFC selected Urbane and Econsult Solutions, Inc., a powerhouse economic consulting firm based in Philadelphia, to conduct this study. As the first comprehensive analysis of the local food system of the city of Detroit, it illustrates the context of the economic, political, and social elements and implications of Detroit’s food system. The project team assessed the current state of food-related industries within the City of Detroit through an innovative data collection process involving interviews, stakeholder meetings, and primary and secondary data capture.

This study examined three major areas of interest:

Distribution – methods and/or systems currently utilized to distribute food within the city of Detroit and SE Michigan;

Localization – percentage of local purchasing resulting in the greatest economic benefit for the city of Detroit, proposed timeframe for reaching the local purchasing goal, and the infrastructure, methods, and consumer behaviors required to reach a percentage goal within a designated timeframe;

Workforce Development – employment opportunities currently available in the food system and additional opportunities that may be available if the localization goal is achieved.

detroit pic 1The research revealed a robust food economy in the city of Detroit and its metro region.

The food system of the City of Detroit produces $3.6 billion in revenue and directly employs over 36,000 people, who collectively earn close to $1 billion in salaries and wages per year. The food system of the Detroit metro area, including Wayne, Macomb and Oakland counties,  is responsible for about $5.8 billion in economic impact, supporting about 59,000 jobs and about 1.9 billion in wages and earnings per year.  Perhaps most telling, approximately 42% of the region’s food system requirements are local. Currently, the Detroit food system is the third largest industry in Detroit. With a 30% localization shift, that rank would jump to second.

The findings of the report are set in the context of three archetypical families within the city of Detroit, in order to exemplify the ways in which the food sector intersects with the lives of real people. The report lays out recommendations to grow, strengthen, and support Detroit’s existing and burgeoning food economy. Finally, the analysis illustrates the potential results of an improved food system on Detroit’s economy, both in terms of quantitative data at a city level, and qualitative impact on the people of the city.


Download: Executive Summary Detroit Food System