Collaboration — is it the Future of Farming?
|From the Mar 11, 2013 Issue of Agri-News||
|Working collaboratively with multiple producers is an effective way to increase product offerings and expand access to markets. Collaborating with others in one of the following market channels may be right for you.
Farmers’ Markets – the most common avenue for delivering fresh food to the consumer, farmers’ markets allow the consumer to directly access community-based producers who make, bake or grow the products they sell. An active farmers’ market is a natural location for a food hub aggregation and distribution centre. The market-based food hub could involve both market vendors and other producers.
Community Supported Agriculture or Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) – is part of a growing social movement that encourages urban and rural citizens to share responsibility for the food that is grown. Consumers purchase shares in the farm operation where the farmers and consumers share the risks and benefits of food production. The arrangement can be as formal or informal as the producers wish.
“We’ve seen effective collaborations between two or more vegetable producers who combine their products so they can both better meet customer needs as well as vegetable growers and poultry, dairy or livestock producers joining forces to improve their product mix,” says Karen Goad, farm direct marketing specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development.
Home Delivery Service – is an old-fashioned model that is regaining its popularity. Home delivery service is a market channel where farmers sell their products to a “middle man” who then delivers multiple farmers’ products directly to the consumers’ homes or to a specific drop-off point. Producer collaboration can increase the variety and volume of products available for home delivery and online sales. This channel gives farmers more access to a larger client base and it allows customers to get the food they want in a convenient manner.
Online Sales – increasingly, single-farm operations are turning to the internet to sell their product. The online sales model offers a direct marketing channel for businesses to market and sell their products online. This option also allows consumers increased opportunity to buy products at a time that is convenient for them.
On-Farm Stores – is a farm direct marketing channel that allows producers to deliver quality agri-food products directly to the consumer at a farm or ranch store. This model can also offer a consumer involvement option such as a learning farm or U-pick orchard.
“Alberta has many examples such as honey ice cream or honey sweetened BBQ sauce where producers use each other’s ingredients in their value added products and sell both products in their on-farm stores,” says Goad. “These collaborations extend the market reach of all producers involved in the collaboration.”
Direct Commercial Sales – the popularity of locally grown food has spread to the commercial food market. Professional chefs and exclusive restaurants understand the value of offering locally grown food in their establishments. In this model, the producers sell directly to restaurants or food establishments.
“About 10 Edmonton area producers are currently collaborating in a three week Chef Market Pilot at Northlands Park,” says Goad. “During the second week, an inspired Corey McGuire, TZiN Wine and Tapas’ executive chef, who is participating in the pilot, told participants that he was going to build a menu based on the products from producers there that day.”
Specialty Retail – is a marketing channel where producers sell directly to specialty retail stores such as health food stores or exclusive delis and boutique food outlets.
To access more information on any of these agri-business options, visit the Explore Local website.