John Polk wrote:I think that it varies regionally, and depends a lot on the clientele. The ethnic backgrounds of the buyers will have a lot to do with their diets, and the foods they buy. From what I have observed, exotics seem to do well, and I seldom see vendors selling bulk type foods, ie potatoes and onions.
Universally, I believe that tomatoes are one of the best sellers.
I know a couple that sell at various farmer's markets. Seasonally, they sell a lot of tomatoes and peppers plus salad makings. A few years ago, the wife began taking cut flowers and flower transplants to see if they would sell. They now claim that the flowers are their #1 money maker! I have heard others say that their flowers do very well. Who'd of thought.
Collin Vickers wrote:Greetings Permies,
I have a question for people who have experience with selling the produce of their farm:
Concerning the concept of adding value to a product: how does the need to accomodate USDA inspection standards factor in?
For the sake of argument, let's say I'm growing tomatoes and turning them into canned salsa, along the lines of what someone suggested earlier.
If I understand things correctly, I can legally sell raw, unadulterated tomatoes to a customer directly at a farmer's market, or to a restaurant supplier, etc., without much state inforced rigmarole.
However, if I process those tomatoes, some conditions now apply:
- My kitchen/production facilities have to meet certain standards and be inspected, as restaurants/factories are
- I have to provide samples of my product to be tested by USDA certified inspectors
- I have to accept a higher workload consisting of mountains of paperwork
- I have to submit to processing requirements that may destroy the quality of my product, (as in the case of pasteurizing raw milk, for instance)
- I have scores of established brands to compete with, some of which may actively seek to undermine my business in order to protect their own market share
In either case, you are accepting certain expenses in the areas of harvesting, distribution, etc.
Might it prove more profitable to deal with unaltered products and cut out the army of bean-counters and other middlemen?
If not more profitable, might it prove less risky?
Another argument in favor of growing flowers is that, since they are not meant to be consumed, I can freely turn them into potpourri, for example, without having to deal with the number of hassles involved in converting tomatoes into salsa.
John Polk wrote:Yeah. I know a lady who would slice some tomatoes, and cut some melons for people to sample.
She was told to stop that, as these were now processed foods. Her permit did not allow processed foods.
Ridiculous, yes. But she had to comply.
The good news is that her cherry tomato sales sky rocketed. She could give samples without processing.
Rion Mather wrote:Craig, the problem is that if you want to expand the business and allow it to grow then you need to keep on the good side of the inspectors. In addition, most vendors are larger farms that have multiple products to sell so following the regulations is a must. I have a friend that clears several thousand dollars a month through his small processed food business so in the long run all the red tape is worth it.