AMES, Iowa – Producers interested in learning how to market to foodservice and retail distributors are invited to attend a “Bridging the Gap – Selling to Foodservice and Retail” workshop to be held throughout Iowa on March 7, 8, 9 and 10, 2006. The meetings are sponsored by Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture.
“Many producers have been selling directly to customers through farmers markets and one-on-one sales,” said Mary Holz-Clause, director of the Value Added Agriculture Program, Iowa State University Extension. “As producers expand from direct marketing to foodservice or retail markets, they need information on market demand, channels of distribution, as well as the requirements and preferences of the foodservice and retail customer. This workshop will focus on how producers can bridge the gap—from direct marketing to marketing to food service and retail.”
“Selling to foodservice and retail markets offers farmers and farmer networks new market opportunities. Consumer demand for food with a clear connection to the producer is outpacing supply. Farmers who are looking for a way to diversify their enterprises will find these workshops a valuable tool to learn more about how to get started selling in this marketplace,” according to Rich Pirog, Marketing and Food Systems Program Leader, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture.
At the workshop, producers will hear from distributors and retailers how to get their attention individually or collectively as a group to make sales. They will learn what it takes to deliver their products, and support sales through the distributor or retail networks. Those attending will learn “secrets of the trade” to consider when sending a product sample, designing a food label and assessing legal responsibilities. This unique workshop will discuss how these decisions will impact the producer’s business and lifestyle.
The ISU Extension Value Added Agriculture Program is currently interviewing food service and retailers to determine the secrets of successful supplier relationships. Results from the survey and day-to-day experiences from the distributors and retailers is basis for the workshops.
“For producers to have the right answers, they need to know the right questions. Our research project with these potential customers will offer the producer the insight necessary to go do business,” said Holz-Clause. “A list of distributor contacts will be made available to producers as well.”
The workshops feature major U.S. food distributors and retailers, producers selling food through these market channels and exploration of opportunities, drawbacks, regulations and methods of marketing. Speakers at each workshop include: Connie Hardy, ISU Extension Value Added Agriculture Program; Craig Watson, Sysco Corporate Offices; Jason Ellis, ISU Hotel, Restaurant, Institutional Management Program; Jeff Jobe, USDA Rural Development and a representative of Hy-Vee Food Stores. Speakers at selected locations include: Vivan Jennings of Asoyia; Steve Williams of Naturally Iowa; Larry Lane of Innovative Growers; Dean Goodale of Maharishi Vedic City Organic Greenhouses; Carolyn Adolphs of Adolphs Produce and Bakery; and Kamyar Enshayan of the UNI Local Food Project.
Pre-registration is preferred by calling the VAAP office at (515) 294-0588 or printing and completing an online registration form available at http://www.agmrc.org/agmrc/calendar/valueaddedseriesbroch.pdf.
The cost of the workshop is $20, prior to March 3 or $25 at the door and includes lunch, breaks and materials. Meeting locations include: March 7, Fairfield; March 8, Atlantic; March 9, Sergeant Bluff and March 10, Waterloo.
For more information, contact Connie Hardy or Madeline Schultz at the Value Added Agriculture Program at (515) 294-0588 or firstname.lastname@example.org.