The workshop, "Bridging the Gap n Selling to Foodservice and Retail," is sponsored by Iowa State and the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture.
"Many producers have been selling directly to customers through farmers markets and one-on-one sales," said Mary Holz-Clause, director of ISU Extension's Value Added Agriculture Program. "As producers expand from direct marketing to foodservice or retail markets, they need information on market demand, channels of distribution, as well as the requirements and preferences of the foodservice and retail customer. This workshop will focus on how producers can bridge the gap from direct marketing to marketing to food service and retail."
"Selling to foodservice and retail markets offers farmers and farmer networks new market opportunities," said Rich Pirog, marketing and food systems program leader for the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture.
"Consumer demand for food with a clear connection to the producer is outpacing supply," Pirog continued. "Farmers who are looking for a way to diversify their enterprises will find this workshop a valuable tool to learn more about how to get started selling in this marketplace."
At the workshop, producers will hear from distributors and retailers how to get their attention individually or collectively as a group to make sales. They will learn what it takes to deliver their products and support sales through the distributor or retail networks.
The ISU Extension Value Added Agriculture Program is currently interviewing foodservice and retailers to determine the secrets of successful supplier relationships. Results from the survey and day-to-day experiences from the distributors and retailers are the basis for the workshops.
"For producers to have the right answers, they need to know the right questions," said Holz-Clause. "Our research project with these potential customers will offer the producer the insight necessary to go do business."
The workshops feature major U.S. food distributors and retailers, producers selling food through these market channels and exploration of opportunities, drawbacks, regulations and methods of marketing.
Speakers at the workshop will include Connie Hardy, ISU Extension Value Added Agriculture Program; Craig Watson, Sysco Corp.; Jason Ellis, ISU Hotel, Restaurant, Institutional Management Program; Jeff Jobe, USDA Rural Development, and a representative of Hy-Vee Food Stores.
Pre-registration is preferred by calling the Value Added Agriculture Program office at (515) 294-0588 or printing and completing an online registration form available at www.agmrc.org/agmrc/calendar/valueaddedseriesbroch.pdf .
The cost of the workshop is $20 prior to March 3 or $25 at the door and includes lunch, breaks and materials.