Other Direct Marketing Opportunities

Additional opportunities to market your food products exist with starting your own food-related business. Catering is an opportunity that exists for someone with excellent cooking and management skills. The catering business requires a consistent, high quality product, labor to prepare and deliver the meals, skill and expertise to manage and run a food preparation kitchen, a sales effort to find accounts, and someone to do the ongoing marketing. For more on catering as a business opportunity, see Catering Events and Festivals.

For more information on setting up a successful catering business, the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center has several articles on the topic.

Bed and Breakfast
One opportunity that might be a fit for quality farm food products is to couple the food with an experience. The Bed and Breakfast concept is one that might be a fit for your farm, but the idea should be carefully examined to determine what impacts visitors to the farm would have on the farming operation. Farm businesses with a unique rural setting that are close to metropolitan areas have the most opportunity for success.

Specialty Food Business
Specialty food products are foods, beverages, or confections meant for human use that are of the highest grade, style and/or quality in their category. Their specialty nature derives from a combination of some or all of the following qualities:

  • uniqueness
  • exotic origin
  • particular processing design
  • limited supply
  • unusual application or extraordinary packaging or channel of distribution
  • high quality

For more information on the specialty food business, see the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center’s specialty food businesses links.

Most of the direct marketing opportunities discussed in this guide have some component of agritourism. Agritourism is a specific kind of rural tourism that is a business conducted by a farmer on their working, agricultural, horticultural or agribusiness operation for the enjoyment and education of visitors. Agritourism is intended to generate income for the producer and to focus on the sales of food products and the farm experience related to that food product. Agritourism is an effective method of connecting the food with the farmer and puts a face on the food product. Visitors and consumers of agritourism have a greater sense of place, an understanding of how the food was raised, and a connection to the farm. A sense of ownership is often created as those who buy food directly from the farm often refer to the farmer as “my farmer”. Creating a positive, emotional connection to the consumer helps establish long term markets and consumers.

For a checklist on marketing agritourism, see Agritourism Marketing.

If you are considering an agritourism operation, visit enterprises that are similar to your ideas and explore the ramifications, barriers, opportunities and regulations associated with bringing visitors onto your farm property. Liability is a key consideration and one that you should seek legal advice when pursuing.

For agritourism enterprises in Iowa, be sure to register your farm at the Visit Iowa Farms agritourism web site.

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