2021 Small Bites Feb 4, 2021
created for farmers, food manufacturers, distributors, grocers, & anyone else interested in how food moves
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Larson Farm A2A2 milk is widely available to stores through Black River Produce
Hot Chocolate Week has arrived! It is a great time promoting local milk & premium chocolate products for the best post-snow shoveling activity.
From Feb 1-7 stores can promote their VT chocolate lines along with cocoa products or be like City Market & make chocolate spoons. The statewide chocolate promotion is a project funded by Breakfast on the Farm through VAAFM.
Hot chocolate requires milk & that's one thing we have plenty of. From larger dairies in Addison & Franklin Counties to smaller producers we have milk available to all our stores. Larson Farm in Wells is producer of organic, grassfed, A2A2 milk sold direct from the farm as well as through Black River Produce. (Black River Produce is a part of Performance Food Group which was acquired by private equity firms Wellspring Capital Management & the Blackstone Group. BRP continues to distribute Vermont products across multiple categories regionally.)
Product Highlights
Miller Farm an organic dairy in Vernon specializes in organic creamline milk (non-homogenized) & is sold to retail stores through Upper Valley Produce. (Locally owned & based in White River Junction).
The farm has been operating for five generations & they have expanded to approximately 700 acres in the Connecticut River Valley. The milk comes from the 199 cow registered Holstein milking herd. In fact, the herd is one of the oldest registered Holstein herds in North America. Certified organic since 1990, the animals spend their days out in the field grazing or in winter comfortably munching their cud in the barn when it is minus 3! The farm also provides its organic milk to Stonyfield yogurt.
Brattleboro Coop dairy department has Miller Farm milk front & center. When our Vermont products are merchandised well, sales increase, shrink is reduced margins are strengthened. This picture is an example of strong product placement, along with posted delivery info for quality customer service.
Stores looking to help shoppers with allergy concerns should consider onboarding Nut Free Chocolate. Their expanding product line can command sales for all types of stores. Check out their wholesale program to add them as a supplier & to meet your customer needs. Of course, enjoy their chocolate in your hot chocolate too!
Up-train staff with info from Vermont's Harvest of the Month. Give your staff time to read up on the varieties, their features & promote the recipes all provided at no charge to your store! This is a fantastic training resource to be explored.
Vermont Everyone Eats provides nutritious meals to Vermonters in need of food assistance, as well as a stabilizing source of income for Vermont restaurants, farmers, & food producers. Local grocers are participating through their prepared meals program.
Seeking training help for your
key staff?
Help your employees understand financials with this exercise to increase financial aptitude & to better understand the way different variables relate to each other. (PS its not just for produce!)
Equinox Food Brokers helps VT food producers build new distribution accounts regionally
How does food make it into a distributor's warehouse & onto store shelves? Well...there are many ways this happens. As food manufacturers seek wider markets & greater distribution range, they often begin the process on their own, then scale up to use the tools offered by brokers.
Food brokers work independently as sales agents negotiating sales for food manufacturers. They play a unique role in that they work for both producers & buyers of food helping sell food products to wholesale distributors, chain wholesalers, direct to retail stores, & more. Sales tend to be in a specific geographic region & the broker tailors their product mix to meet client needs. However, in many cases the products they sell are produced outside of their geographic region.
Food brokers have additional responsibilities beyond sales. They play a key role in conveying market & distribution variables. Equinox Food Brokers which uses its institutional knowledge, focuses primarily on local brands & building off relationships with distributors, food hubs & 3rd party trucking arrangements. When a store sees a new VT line in a distributor catalog, it is often because a broker helped get their product placed there. It is done by building relationships that foster sales through a targeted & complimentary product line for the broker to meet the needs of the parties: manufacturer, broker, distributor, stores & ultimately the shopper. More insight on brokers is included in the NOFA's 2019 Wholesale Assessment Report.
The Farm to Plate Strategic Plan includes 31 product & market briefs, a stakeholder engagement process to refine & prioritize recommendations & strategies to develop a shared vision for the Farm to Plate 2.0 Strategic Plan. The final report will be delivered to the Legislature in February 2021 officially commencing Farm to Plate’s next 10-year cycle. Explore the Dairy Brief.
Farmers did you know?

UVM Extension has some seasonally relevant info to share from our favorite ag engineer Chris Callahan!
Optimal lighting for your work areas And many more resources are available for fine tuning your farm operation in winter.

The Vermont Legal Food Hub connects income-eligible Vermont farmers, food entrepreneurs, & related organizations with attorneys willing to provide pro bono legal assistance. They also created the Farm Animal Welfare Certification Guide helping farmers adopt & communicate higher animal welfare standards. 
The lack of welfare standards & transparency in industrial animal agriculture endangers farm animals, misleads consumers,. Especially since C-19, consumer demand for products with certifications is rising as shoppers become more concerned about inhumane factory farming practices.  

NOFA Vermont has a financial award given out monthly to family farmers for their commitment to resilient, sustainable agriculture. The Vermont Family Farmer of the Month Fund is designed to recognize organic farmers whose businesses are contributing to a resilient Vermont agricultural landscape & demonstrate environmental stewardship through sustainable practices. Apply now for the March recognition!

Before things get really busy, farmers with retail operations should conduct a "farm store audit". This tool from NOFA helps address operation & customer service variables. Created pre-pandemic, it has a lot of value in refining systems. You may want to evaluate on-farm "covid-pivots" you are carrying into 2021.
Supporting our dairy workers through Milk with Dignity
Resource Organizations to Follow

We have an amazing network of organizations supporting our local food economy- from trade organizations to micro-region social profit agents. Each is a fantastic resource to help educate about our food system. Every week in Small Bites we will share a few; take a minute to check out the links then follow up with cross-promotion hashtags, likes etc. Here are few to explore & share with key staff for training & promotional tie-ins:

Contact: Annie H Harlow

Unless otherwise noted, photo credits are from company social media, websites or Annie Harlow

Grateful for the funding support provided by High Meadows Fund
Week 47 of Covid January 21, 2021