Michigan State University Extension Resources for Local Food Entrepreneurs

By Kendra Wills, Michigan State University Extension Community Food Systems Educator

This is a collection of six articles targeted at local food entrepreneurs. These articles, written by Michigan State University Extension educators and Michigan State University Product Center business counselors, focus on some of the frequently asked questions of local food business owners interested in expanding their markets. Topics covered in this series of articles include: wholesale sales, getting your product in the grocery store, and marketing your food product in the grocery store. These articles offer some practical advice for food entrepreneurs on how to tap traditional and emerging markets. Links to valuable resources for local food businesses in all states, such as MarketMaker and online webinar training sessions in 2014 are also provided.


Wholesaling for the Food Service Market

Author: Diane Smith, Michigan State University Extension

For some food producers, selling to the food service industry might be a better fit than selling to grocery stores. Food service industries include: schools, colleges, hospitals, company employee cafeterias, prisons, and non-profit organizations. This article gives business owners an idea of things to consider when determining if wholesale sales are worth pursuing.



Getting Your Product in the Grocery Store

Author: Diane Smith, Michigan State University Extension

There are some common misperceptions about getting products on grocery store shelves. This article gives practical advice for food business owners about the marketing tools and packaging needed to enter this market.



Marketing Your Food Product in the Grocery Store

Author: Diane Smith, Michigan State University Extension

Once your product is placed in grocery store shelves the work to promote your product is not over. If your product doesn’t sell, you won’t get any more orders. This article provides food business owners with ideas to promote your product and how to make sure your product display is the best it can be.



Marketing to Green Consumers

Author: Diane Smith, Michigan State University Extension

Consumers are becoming more and more environmentally conscious according to national survey results. These surveys indicate that made with “recycled” or “recyclable” materials are the most trusted labels over “sustainable,” “carbon neutral,” or “socially responsible.” Click here to read the full article and find a reference to the national survey data.



How to Register Your Business on MarketMaker

Author: Tom Kalchik, Michigan State University Extension

MarketMaker is the largest online local food database in the United States. It was created by the University of Illinois and is now operated by a non-profit organization in partnership with the University of Illinois. This national web site provides a no cost way to connect food producers and buyers. Sysco and U.S. Foods are using this system to source products. The article at the link below provides an overview of the site and basic directions for creating a profile.



Online Programs for Beginning Farmers (and Local Food Producers)

Author: Jim Isleib, Michigan State University Extension

From January – April 2014, Michigan State University Extension educators specializing in agriculture and community food systems will be offering a series of webinars to help beginning farmers and local food producers. Topics in this series, which is open to all, include: selling to schools and hospitals, selling at farmers markets, getting started with hops, getting started with organic field crops, and growing in hoophouses. Each webinar costs $10.00 and each webinar must be registered for separately.


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