Marketing Michigan Products: A Step by Step Guide
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Marketing Michigan Products: A Step by Step Guide

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This tool will help farmers determine their interest and ability to market agricultural products to local schools. This information is not necessarily for sharing with schools but is essential for you ...

This tool will help farmers determine their interest and ability to market agricultural products to local schools. This information is not necessarily for sharing with schools but is essential for you to know and will be helpful when you begin talking with school food service directors and/or distributors about supplying food to local schools and/or school districts.
Presented by Colleen Matts of the C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems
Michigan State University

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  • Also may offer an outlet for selling “seconds” or “odd” sizes and shapes – apples and potatoes example While schools may offer stable, steady markets for Michigan farmers, they do not often provide great profits. School food budgets are tight, and food service directors may have constraints that require certain operating procedures that make local purchases challenging. Developing relationships with schools may take some time, patience, and flexibility, but FSDs are loyal customers and will stick with vendors who can provide quality products at competitive prices with good service. To get real about farm to school, farmers must first get real about their motivations to participate in this marketing opportunity.
  • While interest is steadily increasing and farm to school programs are continuously being established, demand from schools is not being met. We need more farmers with a wider variety of products available for more of the school year to meet this growing demand!
  • Farmers may be wondering how to go about selling their products to Michigan schools. To help guide them through this process, the C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems at MSU is happy to announce the release (hopefully) of the Marketing Michigan Products: A Step by Step Guide. The guide is available on the Michigan Farm to School website (www.mifarmtoschool.msu.edu) and is freely downloadable as a complete guide or can be navigated by steps through the process. The guide is designed to provide farmers with the tools to explore whether this opportunity is right for them, and help them access these markets. It is specifically geared toward farm to school but much of its information may be applied to other types of outreach and marketing, including other institutional markets like colleges/universities, hospitals, and/or correctional facilities. The challenges and constraints that institutional food programs face are often similar, but there are no one size fits all solutions or strategies for farm to institution programs. Programs vary by location, agricultural production and seasonal availability in the area, and the type, size, equipment, and delivery needs of a food service program. While the guide cannot give you all of the answers, it is designed to prepare you to access school markets and provides questions to ask and get answered as farmers begin this new marketing venture.
  • This tool will help farmers determine their interest and ability to market agricultural products to local schools. This information is not necessarily for sharing with schools but is essential for you to know and will be helpful when you begin talking with school food service directors and/or distributors about supplying food to local schools and/or school districts.
  • Helps farmers understand different options and needs for food safety audits Explain that audits aren’t required by schools or other institutional markets, it’s up to the institution to decide but many prefer vendors who can provide assurance of food safety and sanitation, even if that means just having a food safety and sanitation program in place on the farm.
  • This tools is designed to help farmers and community members better understand the budget constraints of most school food service programs. It describes typical procurement methods, federal and other funding, and typical costs. It generally costs about $3.00 to prepare a school lunch meal. About $1.00 of that is spent on food, and only about $.15-$.30 on the fruit and/or vegetable in a school lunch. But as you can see federal reimbursements do not match that. Therefore schools need to find or maximize other sources of funding like paid and staff meals, competitive foods, catering, and grants in order to run in the black and pay for their costs, which include labor and benefits, utilities, trash removal, equipment, and capital improvements.
  • If you’re interested in wider distribution of your products, contact local distributors with whom you would be willing to work. There are more local food distributors and more local food is going through standard, national distribution channels due to increasing demand. Many school food service directors appreciate that ease and familiarity of working with distributors. Capitalize on your existing networks and talk with other farmers in your area about collaborating on production, washing, packing, storage, delivery for school customers. But if you want to link directly with schools, there are a number of resources in Michigan to help you. (MLUI for this area. These plus MDE, MDA, MDCH, MSUE partners.) Make it easy for people to find you – register on Michigan MarketMaker and/or Local Harvest so buyers in your area searching for local food can contact you.
  • Marketing materials = profile of your farm, business cards, and product availability and pricing; offer tastes or samples of your products. Ask questions – school food service questionnaire covers food service type and volume, current produce purchasing, logistics (distribution/delivery, packaging, storage, ordering, payment), purchasing local products
  • (This isn’t included in the guide, but good to review as part of a request for bids/quotes from schools.)
  • Tool to help explain pricing for school meals programs, which typically falls closer to wholesale but somewhere between wholesale and farmers’ market retail prices. Schools can base their purchasing decisions on their own criteria which may include product variety, food quality, price, dependability, service after sale, delivery schedule, payment method and schedule, flexibility, promotion and education programs, product liability insurance, food safety and sanitation standards, or even geographic location.

Marketing Michigan Products: A Step by Step Guide Marketing Michigan Products: A Step by Step Guide Presentation Transcript

  • Colleen Matts C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems Michigan State University
    • Expanding market opportunity
    • Long-term benefits
      • Stable, steady markets
      • Market diversity and risk management
      • Cultivation of the next generation of eaters and buyers
      • “ Free” promotion
  •  
  •  
    • Farmer Self-Assessment
      • Farm Business and Description
        • Products grown and sold
      • Current Sales
      • Logistics
        • Ordering
        • Payment
        • Delivery
      • Marketing and Service
    • Addressing Food Safety
      • Food Safety & Sanitation Plan
      • Food Safety Audits
        • USDA Good Agricultural Practices/Good Handling Practices (GAP/GHP) Audits
        • Third-Party Audits
    • Insurance Considerations
      • Product liability insurance
    • School Food Funding
    National School Lunch Program (Contiguous States) July 1, 2009- June 30, 2010 Less than 60% 60% or more Commodity entitlement Paid $0.25 $0.27 $0.1950 Reduced-price $2.28 $2.30 Free $2.68 $2.70
    • Local Distributors
    • Existing networks
    • Resources to link to Farm to School programs and interested schools
    • School Food Service Questionnaire
    • Bid Documents
      • Product Availability and Pricing Form
      • Vendor Questionnaire
      • Copies of inspections, certifications, insurance, and/or food safety
      • Value-added services
  • Sample Cover Letter for Requesting Bids/Quotes
  • Sample Vendor Questionnaire
  • Sample Product Availability and Pricing Form   Name of Vendor and Contact Information: ____________________________________________________________________   Signature: ________________________________________ Date: ______________________   Please fill in count, packaging, price, and minimum delivery. List additional products and varieties you would like us to consider. Product Count Variety Quality Packed Condition/Description Price Projected Quantity Minimum Delivery Months available Apples   Any variety US Fancy or US No. 1   Ripe, firm, crisp, juicy, smooth skin free of blemishes, bruises & scars. Color typical of variety. Washed.       Asparagus   Spears US No. 1   Spears to be bright green, free from woody stalks and discoloration. Straight stalks free from decay and wilt. Washed.       Potatoes   Russet or Round White US No. 1   Firm and smooth, (not wrinkled); free of soft and/or dark spots, cut surfaces and greenish color. Loose dirt removed. Washed.       Winter Squash   Butternut US No. 1   Firm and smooth, (not wrinkled); free of soft and/or dark spots, and cuts. Caramel color skin with orange/yellow flesh. Washed.      
    • Pricing for School Meals Programs
    • Sample Evaluation Criteria for Selecting Vendors
    • Marketing packet and bid documents/quote
    • Invite new customers to tour your farm/business before selling products to them
    • Ask for a tour of the school food service facilities
    • Meet face-to-face with school food service directors
      • Ordering schedule
      • Delivery
      • Packaging
      • Payment
      • Maintaining contact
    • Stay in regular touch with school customers
    • Be proactive!
      • Value-added services
        • Visit school classrooms or cafeterias
        • Offer to host school field trips
        • Get involved in school fundraisers
    • www.mifarmtoschool.msu.edu
    • Colleen Matts
    • Farm to Institution Outreach Specialist
    • C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems at MSU
    • 517.432.0310
    • [email_address]