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Cashing In at “Local” Markets

Microloans from USDA can provide up to $35,000 to help start new farm enterprises. Photo credit: IFAS Archive

Local food sales in the Florida Panhandle were valued at $543 million in 2012. Photo credit: IFAS Archive

The local foods movement is a trend which has turned into a game changer. In 2012, local food sales in the Florida Panhandle alone have been valued at $543 million.

Indicators suggest more consumers are seeking local produce. On average 20 percent of household food purchases is what the consumer deems as local (grown within Florida).

For more evidence look at the number of farmers markets being started across the Panhandle. Palafox and Al Fresco’s Markets in Pensacola, Seaside Farmers Market, Marianna City Farmers’ Market, and the Destin Harbor Farmers’ Market just to name a few in the Panhandle.

These markets are increasing in popularity every year and they are not the traditional farmer’s markets of yesteryear. These markets include artisans, prepared foods, as well as the old-style raw vegetable and fruit farmers.

Colorful displays are always a great feature at Farmer’s Markets.

Are you taking advantage of your market next door?  UF/IFAS Center for Public Issues Education (PIE Center) research shows Floridians spend $8.3 billion on local food. Are you getting your share?  Learn what consumers are saying about your products and what they go out of their way to buy.

The Pie Center publication gives seven tips on how to “Bring it home”!

  1. Develop your personal brand – This is all about building relationships with the consumers.  They want to know who you are and what you do everyday.  Use social media to help them get to know their farmer.

  2. Take advantage of branding – It is so easy to develop a simple and effective label.  Consumers will respond to this better than a generic basket with the price written with a marker.

  3. Label your products’ origin – Consumers are searching for local foods, but they just want to recognize where it is from.

  4. If it’s grown here, tell Again don’t just rely on labeling, engage with your customers and tell them about the growing process right down the road from where they live.

  5. Invest in advertising – start with a social media presence and build from there.

  6. Make buying local food friendly, yummy and easy If you grow something interesting make samples for taste testing.  Give out recipe cards and start conversations!

  7. Listen – consumers will tell you what they will buy, if you will slow down and listen.

 

These are some great tips for helping you tap into the growing $543 million local foods market in the Panhandle of Florida. To learn more about marketing your farm products at local markets, check out the Pie Center’s Local Foods Toolkit (online training).

 

PG

Author: Blake Thaxton - bthaxton@ufl.edu

Santa Rosa County Extension Agent I, Commercial Horticulture

Permanent link to this article: http://nwdistrict.ifas.ufl.edu/phag/2014/04/25/cashing-in-at-local-markets/