Right now many people in California want to know more about where their produce comes from. They want to buy product that is local, organic, grown on a small farm, or by a family. Consumers want to know your story.
The produce distribution industry is mobilizing to meet this demand and needs appropriately prepared farmers. Distributors and retailers are looking for ways to sell to these customers. If you want to move product through these markets, you have to help them tell the story and make it easy for them to do business with you.
Perhaps you sell at the farmers market, have a CSA, or sell everything to a processor or packinghouse but you are now looking for another way to sell your produce.
Are you ready to sell to buyers who are looking for farmers who can provide labeled product for foodservice and specialty markets that care about small, local, and family farms like yours? What do buyers want from you, and what are the steps you will have to take to be ready to sell wholesale to them?
Resources for Farmers on Breaking into Wholesale Markets
Consumers’ interest in knowing where their food comes from has contributed significantly to the recent growth of the specialty foods market. The Beyond Fresh & Direct project team received a grant from USDA to identify ingredient sourcing opportunities in the specialty food business.
The team developed five fact sheets providing tips for both manufacturers considering sourcing ingredients direct from farmers, and smaller-scale farmers interested in becoming ingredient suppliers to specialty food manufacturers (or perhaps developing their own specialty food business). The four-pagers, which incorporate numerous examples, address the following questions:
- Benefits: How Can Sourcing Directly from Farmers Benefit Specialty Food Manufacturers?
- Criteria: What Criteria Must You Meet to Sell to Specialty Food Manufacturers?
- Connections: How Can Farmers and Specialty Food Manufacturers Connect?
- Standards: What Standards Must You Meet to Supply Ingredients to Specialty Food Manufacturers?
- Value Added: Should You Produce Your Own Specialty Food Products?
- Golden Rules of Marketing for Small Farmers -Basic principles of marketing for small farmers (one page summary by David Visher)
- Workshop Handout -- basics of selling to wholesale markets
MARKET CHANNEL TIP SHEETS
One page tip sheets that list the pros and cons of different market channels available to small producers:
- UC Small Farm Program's Marketing Through Wholesalers and Shippers
- UC Small Farm Program's Time to Call a Wholesaler-Distributor?
- Scaling Up - Perspectives from Growers and Buyers on Barriers and Benefits to Wholesale Marketing of Local Fruits and Vegetables
- Food Safety Begins at the Farm
- Small Farm Digest: Food Safety for Small Farmers
- California Small Farm Food Safety Guidelines (available in multiple languages)
- Good Agricultural Practices & Harmonized GAP Food Safety Manual
- Food Safety GAP certification worksheet - Worksheet a farmer can use to prepare for a food safety GAP audit. The grower should use this as a guideline for what an Auditor would inspect
- Small Farm Program website
- UCCE Fresno
PACK AND GRADE
- Packing Standards
- California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Standardization
- Info sheet - packing standards by commodity
- Siskiyou Sustainable Cooperative Case Study: A Model for Cooperative Farming & Marketing
- Resources on starting an Agricultural Cooperative
- Collaborative Marketing for Small Farms
- Drake Agricultural Law Center Legal Guide for Direct Farm Marketing
- Campbells Risk Management Small Farm Insurance
- USDA Risk Management
- Template Farm cash flow - Basic excel cash flow template to calculate start up and running expenses on a vegetable farm
- Introduction to planning for farm business - Short PowerPoint serves as a very simple introduction to new farmers about how to start planning the farm business
- SOS BAM - Template for making a strategic plan. Useful for existing farmers who are considering adding a new enterprise or who simply want to define and redefine their current focus
- Background of Project
Preparing small, beginning and immigrant producers to capitalize on values-based, wholesale marketing channels: UC SAREP's "Meet the Buyer" Workshops on Wheels
Through a series of wholesale market tours in selected regions of California, UC SAREP and our in field partners at University of California Cooperative Extension are helping to build capacity among immigrant, new, and small farms to access this wholesale market with properly packed, GAP certified, and branded products. We have used the word "Buyer" to describe a very broad range of businesses that a farmer can sell to. We have sought farmers who may be selling now to a packinghouse, farmers' market, or CSA but are considering opening a new market channel that requires a minimum boxed and labeled product.
UC SAREP staff began this work in 2012 with a support from the CDFA Specialty Crop Block Grant. In that year three bus tours were organized—farmers from around Sacramento Valley visited markets in Sacramento, growers from the San Joaquin visited the Bay Area, and growers from San Diego visited markets in the Los Angeles basin. In 2013, with funding from Farm Credit two more tours of Bay Area markets were mounted for farmers from the Monterey Bay Area and Santa Clara County, and another one for Sacramento farmers. Farmers from each tour were offered one on one consulting with the Sustainable Supply Chain Analyst at SAREP. Two tours in February 2015 served Fresno and North Bay Farmers and connected them with wholesale buyers in the Bay Area. The tours in December 2015 served farmers in San Diego and Los Angeles and connected them with wholesale buyers in the Los Angeles area.
Tours are followed by one-on-one consultation with growers, and advice in developing an action plan for future sales.
Ethnic farmers in values based supply chains- CDFA presentation
Presentation about the program made in 2012 to the CDFA Agricultural Committee. It describes the rational and results of the SCBG funder tours that preceded the Farm Credit tours.
Farmer Tours Phase 1 report to funders- Report to Farm Credit that describes the program in 2013 and 2014.
Sample Farmer stories: profiles growers used to tell their story to buyers
Project support comes from Farm Credit and the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) through Grant 14-SCBGP-CA-0006. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the USDA.