Maybe your niche is selling processed pork, lamb or beef to local neighbors. Or maybe you live at the edge of traditional farm country, and have developed a vital roadside market for fruits and vegetables, many of which you grow on your own farm. How do you know what to charge for corn on the cob, tomatoes and green beans? Is it what the market will bear, or are you more interested in making as much up front as possible vs. learning now and growing slowly?
If you don't think you have all the answers yet, Purdue Extension thinks they can help you sort out the important questions to ask. One of those is to be fair to cusotmers, and another is to ask yourself if you're actually making a profit.
You'll have a chance to do all this and more on April 15 at the Indiana Farm Bureau Building in Indianapolis. It's the 2010 Purdue University Specialty Food Business Workshop. A Purdue Extension ag economist, Maria Marshall, has conducted these meetings around the state for some time. She is also involved with the Market Maker program which originated out of state, but which Purdue had put to good use here. Basically, it's become a way for people with locally produced products to sell to learn about potential customers, and vice-versa.
This particular one-day program begins at 8 am. EDT and runs until 4:30 p.m. The whole emphasis will be on how to get the knowledge, contacts and resources needed to state a specialty operation. Anyone from someone just thinking about a business to someone who already does it should benefit from the session.
Marketing is one of the most important parts of the business, Marshall says. No matter how many signs or brochures you have, if the phone doesn't ring with new customers on a constant business, you won't stay in business long. "I will be speaking about marketing techniques and the importance of marketing," She says. "One of the most important pieces of advice is making sure specialty food business owners know their target market is."
Food safety is another big part of the workshop. We expect to learn how to determine what ingredients are in a product, and how it needs to be handled. Perhaps it needs to be refrigerated, perhaps if doesn't. It's up to you to determine what it takes to care for the product before you enter into the business.
Registration is due by April 9, and is $100 per person. Visit: www.ag.purdue/foodsci/Socuments/workshops/feep_brochure.fpf for more details. Or you can call Marshall at 765-494-4268 or email her at 765-494-4268.