WBC can Assist in Developing Markets for Ag ProductsWritten by Cindy Garretson-Weibel
By Cindy Garretson-Weibel, Wyoming Business Council Agribusiness Director
On any given day, the staff at the Wyoming Business Council (WBC) can be working with an agricultural producer to discuss local marketing opportunities, and then a few minutes later, we can be assisting a value-added food producer investigate an export market. As the agricultural marketing arm for the state of Wyoming, the WBC has the ability to work with agricultural producers and food companies of any size and scale to expand their marketing efforts.
With an increased interest by consumers to know where their food comes from, opportunities for farmers and ranchers to direct market their agricultural products are increasing. About eight percent of farms in the U.S. market their ag products direct to consumers through local food marketing channels including farmers' markets, community supported agriculture and roadside stands. Many farms also market directly to restaurants and institutions.
Probably the most prevalent venue for Wyoming farmers and ranchers to direct market their product is at a local farmers 'market. The number of farmers' markets in Wyoming has more than tripled the last 10 years, with over 40 markets operating in the state currently. In Wyoming some of the farmers' markets start as early as June, and most run through October, with a few winter farmers' markets offering products almost year-round.
The economic contribution that farmers' markets have on the state is phenomenal. Based on responses the Wyoming Business Council collected from market managers, run through an economic impact model by the University of Wyoming, farmers' markets throughout Wyoming contributed more than $2.8 million to the state’s economy. The direct sales of approximately $2.1 million generated secondary sales of more than $654,000. Farmers' markets are an integral part of the urban/farm linkage and have continued to rise in popularity, largely due to the growing consumer interest in obtaining fresh products directly from the farm.
In addition to providing fresh local products, farmers' markets are social events and a weekly gathering place for friends and neighbors. A wide variety of items are offered at the markets. In addition to fresh produce and fruit, meat and eggs are available, as well as processed foods, such as honey, jams, jellies and sauces. Wyoming truly has some amazing products that are often showcased at these local venues.
Selling direct to restaurants and institutions is a viable option for Wyoming producers, and Wyoming has seen an increased interest in Farm to School programs, with meat and produce being sold from Wyoming farmers directly to the schools.
For many agricultural producers, international marketing can sound intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. The WBC and its partners can offer assistance to help determine if it makes sense for companies to expand into the global arena.
One-third to one-half of U.S. exporters are new each year. Sellers who survive the first year have a much greater chance of surviving into subsequent years. Small, young firms that enter the global marketplace account for a large share of total exports. We can assist you to find the current trends in the industry, market size of the industry, and potential global markets.
The WBC also participates in several trade missions to increase exposure of Wyoming agricultural products and consumer goods. Several of these missions for value-added food and livestock genetics occur with our Northern neighbor. Canada is the number one trading partner in the U.S. and provides some good opportunities for first-time companies interested in global marketing. Nonetheless, entry into a global market has to be with the right product fit.
Wyoming companies may also be eligible to receive trade show assistance through the WBC’s trade show incentive program. Eligible companies can apply to receive reimbursement for up to 50 percent of approved expenses to attend a show. These expenses could include event fees, booth fees, transportation and pre-approved event-specific marketing materials.
Often times, buyers are interested in testing your product, so it is not uncommon to see orders placed from 100 to 1,000 pieces. This is a great opportunity for you to break into a global market and for your buyer to test your product.
Many marketing opportunities are available for Wyoming producers, and the WBC is glad to assist producers in their marketing efforts. Whether your interest lies in selling produce direct to the consumer, marketing bred heifers or international food marketing, don’t hesitate to give me a call to further discuss your particular area of interest. I will point you to the WBC staff member who can assist you in determining a marketing alternative for your agricultural operation.