By Christie Welch
Direct Food & Agricultural Marketing Specialist
Local food producers came together in Brown and Cuyahoga Counties this past month to explore new market channels for their locally produced foods. Many food producers get in to this enterprise because they really enjoy the production aspects of the business. However, there are also many local food producers whose knowledge of the various market channels is limited.
To assist these local food producers in increasing their knowledge and overcoming barriers to entering different market channels, the OSUE Direct Food & Agricultural Marketing Team partnered with local OSU Extension offices for an in-depth workshop to share best practices when exploring the various market channels.
During the MarketReady training, local foods producers learned research-based best practices for exploring sales to restaurants, grocers, direct-to-consumers, and via wholesale markets. And while all of these market channels are seeking to purchase locally produced foods, producers must take the time to match their products, capacities, and skills with each of the market channels in order to be successful. While many are familiar with selling their products direct-to-consumers through farm and farmers’ markets, there are additional opportunities to sell to restaurants, grocers, and wholesalers. Each channel requires different business functions. MarketReady provides education on these differences and how producers can be successful in developing the proper business functions for the various market channels.
The producers remarked that the training was “very informative” and they like “the different expertise of each of the speakers.”
During the Cuyahoga County training, The Grocery’s owner, Rachael Kingsbury, shared information with the participants on how she procures local foods for her business. She shared best practices that she experiences with her current suppliers. The Grocery offers locally produced foods, prepared foods, and catering services. Attendees indicated they really appreciated the “real world” examples that were shared during the trainings.
At the OSUE Brown County training, Dr. Tim Woods of the University of Kentucky, Department of Agriculture Economics and the creator of the MarketReady program, joined the group to co-present the materials and share information about the research conducted when developing the MarketReady Program. Joined by Dr. Woods was Alex Butler, also of the University of Kentucky and the Center for Crop Diversification, who shared information on insurance requirements for the various market channels.
Also in attendance in Brown County were the participants of the USDA FAS Ukraine Agricultural Economics Faculty Exchange Program. These visiting scholars will take the knowledge gained back to their home country and adapt the program to assist their local food producers. One of the Ukrainian faculty commented, “it was nice discussing practical solutions to solve the sales problems of farmers.”
If you would like more information about the MarketReady Program, which is currently being offered in 17 states, you can go to southcenters.osu.edu/marketing/overview-programs/marketready.