8 Ways to LEARN from each other, MAKE Markets Awesome, and SHARE the Results
Posted On: September 3, 2015
This summer, 30 FMC members were selected to run special food preservation events at their markets. The program, entitled Discover Market Fresh: Learn, Make, Share℠, is sponsored by Jarden Consumer Solutions, makers of the FoodSaver vacuum sealer. Each market was provided with the same vacuum sealing tools and promotional materials, and yet every program was as unique as could be. As usual, creativity never seems to be an issue with FMC members! Programming began in July, and the events reported by the participating markets can serve as inspirational models, with or without FoodSaver vacuum sealers.
Shoppers at the market often buy more when they are given ideas on preparation and preservation at the market. Preserving food for preparing and eating later takes away the anxiety of needing to know exactly how market purchases are going to be used before they go bad. Most markets hand out recipes, and farmers report that something as simple as a recipe in hand increases sales at the market. Discover Market Fresh participants educated customers on how to freeze produce, bread, cheese, fruit, and meat with very little preparation. They also showed customers how to vacuum seal lovely meals such as soups and marinated meats that can be frozen now and eaten later for a quick weeknight dinner.
Farmers are able to vacuum seal WHOLE produce and freeze to sell later in the year. In many states, such as Pennsylvania, a vegetable that is never cut is not considered processed and therefor is able to be sold without additional licensing; regulations may vary by state. Richard Soss of Twin Dog Farms used the vacuum sealer station at the Agricultural Community Events Farmers Markets in Rohnert Park to seal his peppers and other veggies to sell in the winter.
25-40% of food grown in the US gets wasted each year… Discover Market Fresh participants set up sealing stations where they preserved close to 900 pounds of food in one month! This clever and impactful idea would be easy to replicate at markets. Creating a station to preserve food at the market can increase sales and provide a unique marketing opportunity.
Greg Brown sings it so well– there’s nothing quite like tasting a little bit of the summer in those dreary winter months. Discover Market Fresh events demonstrated that freezing is the easiest way to taste a little of the summer in February. In Kansas City, market managers vacuumed sealed and froze peaches at their peak in July, then brought them out a few weeks later to make smoothies. Customers loved it, of course, and were really excited to taste that a peak season peach doesn’t need any additional sugars to taste amazing.
Events can draw in customers, but they can also drain the farmers market staff. How can a market run a successful event without burning out? We can learn from Discover Market Fresh that a special event takes a lot of effort and can be supported through community partnership. Markets can use the built in community- last year, the Phoenixville Farmers Market in PA had a farmer demonstrate how to break down a chicken, season it, and freeze it for later. You can bet that farmer sold more chicken that day!
Linden Hills Farmers Market in Minneapolis, MN, used scheduled events to their advantage. By adding a food preservation component to the ‘Ugly Produce Beauty Pageant’ and the ‘Taste these Tomatoes, Darnit. Day’, they added experiential education and value to their fun events. Who wouldn’t want to save their ugly veggies to look at and eat in the winter?
This seems to be a trend at markets this year! Farmers markets can have a branded backdrop created for a market photo booth. The initial investment in a backdrop is worth all the free advertising that comes out of sharing on social media, or save money by DIYing a cool background (send us the pics, please)!
One of the advantages of the Discover Market Fresh program is the plethora of branding and marketing materials. How can an individual farmers market take a page out of Jarden Home Brands’ book? What kind of outreach can markets do at other events? Does your market have a branding kit, a booth of materials that can travel to other community events? Do the farmers ever do special foodie events, and if so, are they bringing anything with them that has your farmers market branding on it? It helps both the farmers and the market to take advantage of branding and visibility. Do social media efforts have consistency in style to help develop the market as a brand?
There seemed to be a divide between the participants of Discover Market Fresh. Some markets reported that shoppers were very enthusiastic and participated in the sealing stations at the market, but several reported that even though customers appreciated learning about preservation, they didn’t understand that they were actually able to save their own food while they were at the market. It comes down to marketing and communication. Microphones at the market can help, too!
Discover Market Fresh is Sponsored by Jarden Consumer Solutions. The photos were provided by the markets and our partner, Integrated Marketing Solutions.