Is your farm business growing? Are you looking to get your produce into new markets?
Working with a distributor may be the right path for you!
WHAT IS A DISTRIBUTOR?
Food distributors act as the middleman between the farmer and the customer, or retailer. They purchase farm-grown products directly from the farm, then sell them to a variety of customers: restaurants, grocery stores, and supermarkets, schools, institutions like hospitals and universities, food processors, and food manufacturers (Lauren Arcuri, 2020).
WHY WORK WITH A DISTRIBUTOR?
As a farmer or producer, selling your fruits and veggies to a distributor offers a variety of benefits:
- Sell larger volumes of produce more efficiently than selling directly to consumers.
- Reduce the time and resources spent on marketing directly to consumers to focus more on production.
- Access different markets to increase sales volume and brand presence.
What will you gain from this workshop?
This all-day intensive workshop designed and led by farmers and distributors will provide a deep dive into what it means for a small produce farm to work with distributors to sell into new end markets. We’ll discuss,
- Understanding your cost of production
- Margin vs. Mark-up vs. Profit
- Situating distributors within the value chain
- How to identify the right distribution partner for your operation
- Mechanics of working with distributors (packing & grading; storage & handling)
- Maintaining your brand identity and preserving your unique story
- Certifications and how they can support your pricing strategy
- Safety regulations and records
Course Developers & Instructors
Katie Bishop, PrairiErth Farm
Katie is one of the many PrairiErth Farm successes. Due to the growth of the farm, Katie was able to leave her corporate job of 18 years to farm full time with her family. Katie runs the vegetable and grain operations with her husband Hans. Katie is the go-to for all things veggie from transplant sales to CSA, wholesale accounts and community outreach programs, planting through harvest. She works hard with the community to make sure local and organic food is accessible by all. Katie speaks on topics such as eating seasonally, food preservation, creating and building your brand, and using social media on the farm.
James Carbine, Optimist Consulting LLC
Jim is a business consultant, entrepreneur and C-Level operations & sales executive with 40 years of experience in the Food/Distribution/Restaurant and Paper/Paperboard/Packaging industries. Currently, Jim and his wide Andrea consult via Optimist Consulting – specializing in providing specialty expertise in the good food space and sustainable food system projects around the country. Before moving to Grand Rapids, MI Jim was CEO of Local Foods, a Chicago based regional wholesale food distributor (serving restaurants, caterers, institutional clients, and food service companies in the Upper Midwest) and a retail grocery store/butcher shop.
Alex Frantz, Midwest Foods
Alex is the Director of Local & Sustainability at Midwest Foods, a woman-owned, Chicago-based produce distributor delivering food from farms to institutions. For half a decade Alex worked alongside college students to advocate for shifts in sourcing at their dining halls. In her current role as steward of Midwest’s local Veloccity program, Alex has built upon a foundation of storytelling and reporting to develop innovative partnerships with farmers and foodservice clients at institutions like K-12 schools, colleges, hospitals, and senior living facilities to address the most common issues regarding access, consistency, and transparency and develop successful, substantive values-based sourcing opportunities.
Jeff Hake, Funk’s Grove Heritage Fruits & Grains
Jeff Hake owns and operates Funks Grove Heritage Fruits & Grains along with his wife and brother-in-law in McLean, Illinois. They grow fruits and grains on a small scale, which they then process and package into specialty value-added food products and sell via wholesale channels throughout Central Illinois. He serves as board vice president of Central Illinois FarmFED Co-op, and as president of the Central Illinois Young Farmers Coalition. Hake has a master’s degree in agriculture, food, and the environment from the Friedman School at Tufts University.
Erin Meyer, Basil’s Harvest
Erin is a mom, dietitian, chef, and food systems professional who believes that food system change begins with your food story. Her life’s food stories have guided her through more than thirty years of experience in connecting the dots between food, farm, and health. Erin’s collaborative work with farmers, culinary and health professionals, and food system experts has provided insight along the value supply chain as we grow regional regenerative farm to institution pathways.
If you are no longer able to attend and need to cancel your registration, please contact us at 217-840-2128.
- Cancellations made up until two weeks prior to the event will receive a full refund minus a $5 processing fee
- Cancellations made up until one week prior to the event will receive a 50% refund
- Cancellations made the week of the event are not eligible for a refund
This material is based upon work supported by USDA/NIFA under Award Number2018-70027-28586. Funding for this project was provided by the North Central Extension Risk Management Education Center, the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
Special thanks to The Land Connection’s Farmer Training sponsors!