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Ssawg 2019 growing for restaurants


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How to market your produce to restaurants. For the local farmer.

Published in: Food
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Ssawg 2019 growing for restaurants

  1. 1. Growing For Restaurants Presented by Michelle Akindiya Farmshare Austin Education Manager
  2. 2. Is the restaurant market a right fit for your farm? Opportunities - Good source of income that can complement Farmer’s Market or CSA sales. Often can get a premium price on specialty produce - Can grown a lot of value in small space - think baby veg, herbs, edible flowers, tender greens - Great for urban farmers - Sometimes will also buy seconds at lower price that can otherwise be hard to sell Risks - Personalities - chefs can be finicky and sometimes flaky - Don’t grow a large quantity of something for one person unless you have a very strong relationship - Leg work to get customers - Often will need to deliver
  3. 3. Two types of Restaurants that tend to purchase locally: High End, Low Volume - Very fancy, small restaurants with a high price point. - No set menu, chef will often make it up after they see what farmer’s have for the week - Will often shop directly at the farmer’s market - Will pay close to retail price - maybe just a 20% discount if that - Difficult to get them to tell you what they want you to grow. They want to be inspired! Larger, High Volume - Larger restaurants with set menu. - May purchase items that are on the menu all the time or may have seasonally rotating menu. - Often appeal to a wider audience and use more common veggies - Will purchase higher volumes at lower prices - probably 50% of retail price. - You will have to deliver. They may want deliveries a couple times a week.
  4. 4. Resources to find chefs that buy local Local Harvest has some restaurant listings. Slow Food USA Get in touch with your local chapter. Edible magazines - find the one closest to you at
  5. 5. This is a trade organization for chefs with chapters all over the country. Try contacting the chapter closest to you and see if you can present about your farm and/or give out samples at one of their meetings. American Culinary Federation
  6. 6. Making Connections - Farmer’s Markets can be good places to meet chefs, but you will need to do a fair amount of leg work and follow up to build and maintain relationships. - You need to have an online presence - Website, facebook, instagram. You need a logo and business cards. You want to be easy to find and contact. - Take samples to chefs you are trying to court. - Go eat at the restaurants! See the menu and get an idea of how your produce could fit into their operation. - Invite chefs and their staff to your farm. Let them try the products straight from the field.
  7. 7. Orders - Communication & Consistency - Choose a consistent time to send out your weekly availability list. Include photos! E-mail is best, but some chefs prefer text. Ask their preference. - Monday mornings are usually good time to send out availability. Thursdays are often a good day for delivery. - Set an order deadline and minimum order or delivery charge. - Let the chef know a week or two out when you anticipate a new crop coming in. - If you cannot supply the chef’s needs, let them know ASAP so they can find other sourcing. Do not leave it to the last minute. This is especially important if you have a regular order with them.
  8. 8. Pricing Often farmers will take a base percentage off of their retail price to set a wholesale price - usually 20 - 30%. Do ask for feedback on pricing and be willing to negotiate, but beware of undercutting yourself. Make sure you are making money by developing enterprise budgets for your different crops. Consider charging retail for small quantities and giveing price breaks for a case or larger quantities. It is better to start high and bring down a price than start too low and try to raise it later.
  9. 9. Crop Planning - Schedule a time to meet with the chef/buyer when you are working on your crop plan. - Bring a harvest calendar - don’t assume that chefs understand the seasons, especially in the south. - Have some ideas about what you would like to grow in the coming season, but also ask the chef what they would like. What do they have a hard time sourcing that you could grow? What do they use all the time and what might they want for seasonal specials? - Find out exactly what they prefer - size, variety, color etc. - If they say carrot - how big? With or without greens? Just orange or rainbow? - Find out how much they would use of each crop per week. Set up your succession planting accordingly. Plan an extra 25% just in case.
  10. 10. Workflow Think about how restaurant orders will fit in to the rhythm of your weekly workflow. - What days are best for your farm as a whole to harvest for chefs? Do you need to balance out harvest timing with harvest for other market channels? - What days can you deliver? Ideally you create a loop where you deliver all the orders in one go to save on time & gas. - Can you streamline with other tasks? Can you get the chef to pick up at a market or CSA drop? Can the chef host a CSA drop? Also consider the flow of the seasons. Are you overloaded at a given time? Will you need to hire seasonal help?
  11. 11. Capacity Delivery Capacity - How much can you deliver at one time? - Do you need to invest in a delivery truck or hire a delivery driver? Storage Capacity - What is the capacity of your cold storage? Can you harvest the day before and deliver the next day?
  12. 12. Getting Paid Set up terms before the first delivery. - Will they give you a check upon delivery or will they mail it? - Do they prefer to pay by credit card? Do you accept credit cards? - Is there a different contact for accounting than there is for ordering? - Have a way to keep track of open invoices. Quickbooks or other invoicing apps are out there to help you make sure you get paid and track sales.
  13. 13. Marketing - Consider making an info sheet with the story of your farm and what you grow for the restaurant that they can display in the restaurant or use for their marketing, like a one page press release with photos of your farm. - Introduce yourself to the front of house staff. Tell them your story and info about your products the restaurant is featuring. They will talk up your farm to their guests. - Share your social media handles with the restaurants and get theirs. Be sure to follow them and tag them in relevant posts. The more you tag popular sites, the more new followers you can find. Free advertising!
  14. 14. Thank you Michelle Akindiya Farmshare Austin Education Manager Happy Growing!