How Do I Sell My Food Product?

A successful food business requires experience in raising a quality crop and in knowing how to sell the product. Marketing food products usually is not as easy or doesn’t come as natural to producers as growing the product does, however, marketing should have just as much or more emphasis than growing the product. The very first step in any grower’s mind should be the marketing process. Farmers must be marketers first, prior to even deciding what to grow.
Because of seasonality, freshness, quality and the perishable nature of the fruit and vegetable products, having a commitment from a buyer at the beginning of season is a necessity, unless your product goes directly into a processing or preservation mode. Knowing your market destination and getting the product to that market immediately is of utmost importance.
What types of marketing avenues are other producers using and what are the barriers and the opportunities associated with these various channels of distribution? How are marketing decisions made? What is the process used to determine which market you will sell into? Do I need a formal and written marketing plan? These are all questions that should be asked and addressed early in the formation of a business enterprise. These should also be revisited and updated as one fact is a constant: markets evolve and change on a regular basis.
Fruit and vegetable producers are participating in Community Supported Agriculture systems, farmers’ markets, U-pick operations, road-side or on-farm stands, direct to retailers, direct to restaurants, direct to institutions and food service providers, marketing on the Internet, food cooperatives, or direct to wholesalers, for instance.
Some questions to ask when determining which market you want to sell into are:
  • Who are my customers?
  • What is my profit potential?
  • Am I set up facility-wise to meet that market?
  • Do I have adequate resources to deliver into that market?
  • Who will pay me the most for my product?
  • Are the costs of getting into that market feasible?
  • What can I do to improve my profitability given my business goals?
  • Do I want to be the marketing CEO or the production CEO?
  • How does this market fit into my personal preferences?
  • How much processing do I want to do to sell into that market?
  • What are the regulations and laws regarding selling into that market?

Grow What They Want; How They Want It

Growers must understand today’s consumers. It is important to know the demographics and what products they want. Research is vital at the front end when determining your product mix. Knowing what to grow and how much to grow should be determined with collection of information on things such as consumer trends, past history of your market, changing factors in the marketplace, competition, and many other issues.
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