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Commercial bakers and the relocalization of wheat in western Washington State


Interest is growing in the relocalization of staple crops, including wheat, in western Washington (WWA), a nontraditional wheat-growing area. Commercial bakers are potentially important food chain intermediaries in the case of relocalized wheat production. We conducted a mail survey of commercial bakers in WWA to assess their interest in sourcing wheat/flour from WWA, identify the characteristics of bakeries most likely to purchase wheat/flour from WWA, understand the factors important to bakers in purchasing regionally produced wheat/flour, and identify perceived barriers to making such purchases. Sixty-one percent of survey respondents were interested in purchasing WWA wheat/flour. Bakers who used retail strategies to market their products were more likely to be interested in WWA wheat/flour compared to those not using retail methods. Bakers’ current purchases of Washington wheat/flour were not related to their interest in purchasing WWA flour. The most important factors bakers would consider in purchasing regionally produced wheat/flour were consistency of flour quality, quality of flour, and reliability of supply. Cost was the most frequently mentioned barrier to the purchase of regionally produced wheat/flour. Our results are relevant for other areas attempting to reconnect grain producers, commercial bakers, and consumers in mutually beneficial ways.

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Fig. 1


  1. The Tailored Design Method includes carefully timed mailings, personalized correspondence, visually appealing questionnaire layout, First Class postage, and other procedures to reduce survey errors from measurement and nonresponse (Dillman et al. 2009).

  2. Respondents could select more than one role in the bakery.

  3. We did not contact non-respondents to find out why they had not participated in the study. Identifying nonresponse bias (if present) would have helped our interpretation of the survey results.



Eastern Washington


Western Washington


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We would like to acknowledge the following individuals and organization for their assistance with this project: Carol Miles, Andrew Corbin, Steve Lyon, Andrew Ross, Jurgen Bettag, Jo Ferneau, Sheila Carder, Garrett Furuichi, Lucas Patzek, Jeremy Sage, Chris Savastio, and the Bread Bakers Guild of America. We also thank the anonymous reviewers and Harvey James for their helpful comments on an earlier draft of this paper.

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Correspondence to Stephen S. Jones.

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Hills, K.M., Goldberger, J.R. & Jones, S.S. Commercial bakers and the relocalization of wheat in western Washington State. Agric Hum Values 30, 365–378 (2013).

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  • Commercial bakers
  • Local foods
  • Relocalization
  • Short supply chains
  • Washington State
  • Wheat