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Source Tasmania - A Feasibility Study

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Wills, Ben (2011) Source Tasmania - A Feasibility Study. Project Report. University of Tasmania, Hobart. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

This $8,070 Tasmanian Food Security Council funded project aims to explore the feasibility of a commercially viable social enterprise, delivering sustainably produced, nutritious local food, into specific areas of Tasmania where people experience elevated levels of food insecurity. The study explores two models of service delivery. The first model is small scale, involving the incremental growth of an existing Hobart based not-for-profit food retail store, such that it could provide a small number of seasonal fruit and vegetable boxes into three specific communities. The second option is larger in scale and would involve the formation of a new business entity capable of packing and delivering seasonal fruit and vegetable boxes into communities throughout Tasmania. Both models under consideration are not-for profit, but would aim to generate sufficient income through the sale of food to cover their own operating costs, including the employment of staff. Both models would also make some use of ecommerce, for example by offering an online ordering system to customers. The central considerations in gauging the feasibility of these models are; 1) The existence of suitable partner organisations and their ability to co-operate, 2) The presence of unmet demand for fresh fruit and vegetables in target areas, 3) The ability of target consumers to purchase products at prices which would cover the projected start up and operating costs of the social enterprise. Data for the study was obtained in 3 stages: 1) Multiple meetings with senior and operational staff from all partner organisations 2) Semi-structured interviews with 32 residents of the study sites (Chigwell, Gagebrook and Oatlands) to develop a qualitative understanding of potential demand for the envisaged service (Research methods were approved as part of the author's University of Tasmania human research ethics application H11289.) 3) Scenario building, benchmarking and cost estimation designed to develop a clearer understanding of organisational and financial resources required to deliver the service. This data was then assessed to determine both the likely financial and organisational feasibility of the two delivery options, as well as their likely impact on food security. The results of this study highlight that there is at least some level of unmet demand for the stable and professional delivery of local and sustainably produced fruit and vegetables in all types of Tasmanian communities, but that the capacity of a self supporting social enterprise to fulfill this service, especially for the most food insecure, is hampered by a number of factors. These factors include; the presence of existing businesses offering conventionally produced fruit and vegetables at low cost; the existence of programs offering food either for free, or at prices which do not represent the true cost of delivery; the low level of availability and relatively high cost of capital funds for social enterprises compared to grant funded food delivery projects. Despite these issues it is not impossible that a social enterprise might succeed within some regions.

Item Type: Report (Project Report)
Publisher: University of Tasmania
Date Deposited: 07 Jul 2011 00:44
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2014 04:20
URI: http://eprints.utas.edu.au/id/eprint/11376
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