Marketing Channels

 

Marketing to Consumers

Ohio consumers purchase directly from producers through on and off-farm retail markets, farmers' markets, Community Supported Agriculture, and other distribution options.  To better understand consumer behavior, visit the following resources.

 

Colorful salads
 

Marketing to Restaurants

Ohio restaurants purchase directly from producers.  To better understand more about caterers, restaurant professionals, and other food service retailers, visit the following resources.

Resources for Entrepreneurs

Ohio Restaurant Association

Resources for Educators

 

Grocery display
 

Marketing to Grocery Stores and Other Retailers

Ohio grocers and other retailers purchase directly from producers.  To better understand retailers, visit the following resources.

Resources for Entrepreneurs

Ohio Grocers Association

Resources for Educators

 

Chef washing lettuce 
 

Marketing to Schools and other Institutions

Ohio schools and other institutions with dining services purchase directly from producers.  To better understand these buyers, visit the following resources.

Resources for Entrepreneurs

Farm to School

Farm to School connects schools (K-12) and local farms with the objectives of serving healthy meals in school cafeterias, improving student nutrition, providing agriculture, health and nutrition education opportunities, and supporting local and regional farmers.

Visit Ohio's Farm to School website

 

 

Marketing to Hospitals and Health Care

Hospitals and health care facilities recognize the health benefits of eating good food and are increasing their purchasing from local suppliers. Many health care facilities feature local food in their cafeterias where they have some flexibility in pricing.

The first step is to contact the hospital or facility and speak with their food buyer.  Avoid calling around meal times as this is a very busy time in food service. Some hospitals now host farmers' markets or provide CSA drop-off areas so think beyond the cafeteria.

Be sure to provide the buyer with information about all of your products, seasonal availability, volumes, packing and processing, as well as delivery options.

Benefits:

  • May offer a good price point and the opportunity to move volume quickly.
  • Can advertise farm to customers with point of sale materials.
  • Farm may also be able to set up a CSA pick-up site at the hospital or health care facility.
  • Steady markets and consistent order volumes.

Challenges:

  • May be required to carry additional liability insurance or third party food safety certifications.
  • May prefer that farms sell through regional distributors.
  • May be hard to get connected initially with the buyer.
  • May have specific delivery requirements.

Marketing to Government Facilities

Government facilities such as prisons, youth detention centers and food service operations for government-owned buildings can be another marketing outlet. Once you contact the buyer, provide them with information about all of your products, seasonal availability, volumes, packing and processing, as well as delivery options.

Benefits:

  • Prisons do not require processed foods because they can process items on-site.
  • Steady year round markets and consistent order volumes.
  • Allows for medium and high volume sales in your community and across the state.

Challenges:

  • Farm may need to deliver very high volumes.
  • Farm may be required to carry additional liability insurance or third party food safety certifications.

Marketing to Corporations

Corporate campuses are seeing farm fresh food as an employee benefit and are offering local food options more than ever before. Businesses with in-house food service that serve 100 or more people per day are an example of this market.  Sometimes the cafeterias of large businesses can pay more than other institutions because the employee may pay more for featured local items.

To get started, contact the buyer or food service management company that runs the cafeteria. Check for requirements and minimum volumes. Offer a list of your products, how you can offer them (fresh, frozen, dried, or canned) and possible delivery schedules.

Benefits:

  • Higher price point than other institutions and you can move volume quickly.
  • Your farm may be featured with point of sale materials.
  • May also be able to advertise to cafeteria customers or set up a CSA pick-up site at the business.

Challenges:

  • May be hard to get connected initially with the buyer.
  • Farm may be required to carry additional liability insurance or third party food safety certifications.
  • May prefer that farms sell through regional distributors.