Local Food Demand: Stronger Than Ever
VT demand... meet VT supply... meet VT sales...meet new outlets
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Quill Hill Farm has new retail packing of its amazingly amazing seasoning. Available at MNFC
Grocers: It's all about home cooking made easier
All across the state, sales of Vermont products have been strong throughout the past 8 months. Shoppers have been making decisions that continue to strengthen our producers across all categories.
Sales of local meat are strong at stores of all sizes often delivered DSD, such as poultry from Happy Bird Poultry Farm. The ability to source locally helps each store curate their product mix to the needs of its shoppers while keeping inventory dollars local.
Since 1941, local suppliers have been delivering direct to Mehuron's. This type of purchasing continues to be integral to their success. Located in the heart of the Mad River Valley, it is in an area high in four season tourists.

Mehuron's builds displays & promotions that feature VT producers & sales of its in-house prepared heat & eat meals to go. Category buyers at the store bring in VT products to capture new trends, always being cautious to offer selections to balance out existing product mixes & customer needs. Additionally, house-made sausage & a remodeled produce department that is 50% larger helps area producers meet demand. Buyer decisions require a deft hand, understanding opportunities for product turns balancing local & regional suppliers.
It is predicted across the state that stores in the heart of ski country will have decreased weekend sales from last year, but midweek shopping will increase, based on current reservation & occupancy rates. Vermont products matched with promotions & product placement enhances sales that 100% builds our B2B economy. By selling VT products we are keeping more money in circulation to our struggling businesses. Gearing up for winter sales is an opportunity buyers should not take lightly. 
Garuka: B2B Building Brands Together
Garuka Bars, Vermont's premier energy snack food is 100% on board with helping other businesses gain traction. They know first-hand how hard it is to build a brand that has strong repeat buyers.
What we love about this company is their allegiance to co-promoting the companies they source ingredients from. Their Cares Packages feature partnerships with Champlain Valley Apiary & Silloway Maple & Vermont Soap.
They amplify partner brands through sample size bonus packs & with tons of social media links. Their current D2C seasonal Pumpkin Spice Espresso Bar has locally roasted coffee grinds from Kestral Coffee & nut butter from The Nutty Vermonter. As part of their win-win brand identity, sharing visibility with small or emerging brands leads to increases sales for each business.

Their small batch energy bar is sold through Black River Produce, Mable & other 3rd party online sales channels, via e-commerce direct to consumer, DSD & with the help of Equinox Food Brokers. Stores in ski areas can fill needs of the upcoming season by purchasing
direct from Garuka. We know grab & go demand will be bigger than ever so plan ahead! Distributors are encouraged to help multiply the positive economic impact of Garuka.
Stores & distributors how are your maple Sales? Let's increase the sales of all maple products while The Maple 100 is going on. Cross-promote with your local sugarmakers: List of participating sugarhouses.
Quote of the Week
"This year the size of the crop was good, but not our largest crop – BUT the number of pickers was 50% more than prior years, since everyone was looking for a safe family outing."
-Mad Tom Orchard
Stores take note!
This handy apple guide can help your staff be the best they can be while increasing sales in the Produce department. Information is key to educating shoppers. Remember purchasing a number of varieties at this time of year allows for cross-category display options while "dummy displays” can help protect quality while promoting abundance. Shoppers are regaining their Spring covid-inspired baking skills; help make it easy for them with creative apple-pie displays. Create a grab & go shopping list to help them while increasing sales: pie shells, butter, cinnamon, maple syrup etc.
Vermont Tortilla located at Artisan Village in Shelburne produces retail & food service packs of corn tortillas. Each one is made with corn grown in the Champlain Valley. This business is committed to helping farmers access new markets as the face of dairy farm-field production continues to shift.
Store buyers looking for premium VT easy-to-cook-at-home quick sales, look no further than VTC. As a rule, buyers do not want to "cannibalize" sales of existing products by bringing on a new one. Perhaps there is an untapped sales opportunity with the 2020 roll out of turmeric tortillas. Every tortilla company has its own flavor, & this 202o Good Food Award Winner has gained sales traction in the northeast. Health conscious shoppers are seeking easy to prepare products; cross promote VTC tortillas with salsa, local salad greens, for easy taco, tortilla soup or chilaquile dinners. Their food service pack is perfect for prepared foods departments to increase Vermont-based meals.
VTC is scaled to all sizes of buyers be it stores, distributors & food hubs or CSA's. Reach out for pricing & specs & distribution options.
Sparrow Arc Farm- growers of premium potatoes & sold in large quantities to distributors
Distribution/Supply-side barriers & sales opportunities
We continue to be in uncertain times as regards covid impacts on product availability & changing shopping patterns.
Home cooks are entering a new season of cooking. (squash oh my! potato varieties what the heck! cooking fatigue, breakfast for dinner!). Distributors are reporting increased sales at food stores well above 2019. Closed or reduced capacity at restaurants means more food sold direct to customers.
There is plenty of food in the supply chain, though packaging for some food manufacturers is hard to obtain causing supply chain bottlenecks. The uncertainty nationally of covid is a challenge for buyers along with potential gaps in manufacturing due to packaging gaps. It is reported that forward buying of products, a common practice in food distribution, is taking on new gravitas among distributors.

This winter, distributors anticipate increasing sales at stores of all sizes due to the steady growth in home cooking. Yet to be determined is a return or increase in online ordering & curbside pickup. Other trends forecasted are for strong "breakfast sales", this includes all forms of frozen/toaster items, pancake mixes, bacon & sausage.
On the local front, Vermont products are strong especially all types of frozen, store-made grab & go, & basic grocery products including Bove's Italian inspired frozen meatballs & tomato sauce available through AGNE. This regional distributor opens up markets to Bove’s throughout the northeast.
Despite strong sales, some producers are finding it is hard to recapture lost sales at colleges & other institutions. When sales drop through distributors, often it is hard to know why. Without specific store sales reports it is pretty much impossible for small or emerging brands to redirect sales support. When distributors do not share this information (this can be a fee-based option), quarterly sales projections are no longer useful for production planning. When distributors do share the information, food manufacturers can inquire directly to stores to get first-hand knowledge of reduced sales. Often strapped for employee time, the food manufacturer can then utilize sales staff with increased specificity for stronger sales though the distributor.
The advantages of opening market channels through distributors can be very favorable, maintaining the sales can be challenging. Distributors sharing retail sales info with producers can be beneficial in maintaining sales. 
The covid disruption shuttered restaurants, closed colleges, shifted shopping causing significant lost sales. Creative thinking & problem solving became job #1 across the state.
Area farm, food & community organizations leaned into helping create new market access through direct to consumer sales. ACORN quickly turned all their energy to an online market filling a need for food manufactures, farmers, & shoppers seeking safe alternatives to supermarkets. As time went on & shoppers habits shifted the organization curtailed the online marketplace.
As part of their efforts to share project updates, an Online Market Assessment Case Study Brief has been released. Read how this small cash-strapped organization helped fill a timely need & how they continue addressing challenges in supply, demand, & access to local food. 
Down on the farm
VAAFM has a regular e-news of info & resources for farmers & interested folks. We encourage stores & distributors become informed on agricultural issues & solutions to our vibrant agriculture. Find the current issue & sign up here. Enjoy & share their Facebook posts for daily ag links & sunrises. (see picture above!)
Apple orchards have had banner sales this year. More & more Vermonters have taken to enjoying the outdoor experience of orchards. Safety & providing a positive experience for all has been a priority.
In East Dorset, Mad Tom Orchard sold out earlier than in past years. Locals & travelers picked it clean by the end of September. As so many Vermont businesses are doing, this orchard supports other orchards in a B2B support network helping folks know other orchards to pick or purchase pre-picked apples, or buy donuts, cider & other farm-made products.
Apples are not the only crop that are having a whirlwind fall! Pumpkin patches are doing banner sales. At the Winslow Farm in Pittsford families are coming out for their pumpkins earlier than in past years. Farms are where Vermonters are enjoying the fall. Listen to the tale of the pumpkin patch as told by VPR & shared by Rooted in Vermont!

Farmers Take Note!

CAE has space in a 10-week business planning class for farm & food businesses. Starting Nov. 2 ; Grab your spot soon!
A couple more things to consider
Happy Bird Poultry Farm in Isle LaMotte is a family run poultry operation scaling to meet the needs of stores, CSA's, & farmstands. They are committed to meeting expanded demand of locally produced free range chicken with increased production capacity. They are seeking new outlets in northern Vermont. Contact the farm directly for distribution routes & details.
Vermont Fresh Network is working closely with restaurants & farms in the Everyone Eats statewide program. Funded through the federal CARES ACT, it aids Vermonters who are food insecure due to covid. It is designed to engage restaurants that have suffered economic harm by preparing meals using food purchased from Vermont farms & food producers.
Farm to Plate encourages all network partners to join our 10th Annual Gathering, November 12 & 13. A virtual experience will keep us all safe. Sign up & add your perspective to the many conversations. Grocers, farmers, distributors, VT food manufacturers & activists are encouraged to attend. Scholarships are available 
Unless otherwise noted, photo credits are from company social media, websites or Annie Harlow

Contact Annie H Harlow
to share your info & for food business resources


Grateful for the funding support provided by High Meadows Fund
Week 33 of Covid October 22, 2020