2021 Small Bites
January 14, 2021
created for farmers, food manufacturers, distributors, grocers, & anyone else interest in how food moves
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Healthy Living in Williston: prepared for 2021 trends with pre-made meals & grab & go
Grocers & Safety Measures
Planning for 2021: How will stores navigate supply disruptions from the ongoing increase in national Covid-19? If anything, continued resilience & creativity will be in order.
Take for example just a few days into 2021, due to increase cases locally JJ Hapgood in Peru, VT has gone to exclusive online orders for curbside delivery, no longer providing in store shopping. Last week we saw VT Food Collaborative in Addison County modifying its service.
Today marks the most US deaths from covid. at some point we are again going to hear how manufacturing & distribution is going to be impacted. We are being told for stores to expect that shoppers will continue to lean to prepared foods & easy to prepare healthy meals. Stores will continue to streamline products, removing slow sellers. High-turnover products & their production schedules may experience gaps based on increased covid infection rates. How exactly this plays out is still unknown. We do know that restaurant closures will continue impacting production & processing across food categories. Vermont food producers & localized distributors like Pumpkin Village Foods & Lesser Distribution will continue to build out their routes selling VT foods.
Healthy Living Market's new Williston location focuses on top sellers in all categories & keeping everyone as safe as possible by monitoring traffic in the store & offering Healthy Living To Go at each of its three locations. They have also created a live feed video to check to see if there is a line.
Safety is paramount in Vermont. If we can follow these rules & guidelines, we can open the full business economy faster. In the meantime, stores are increasingly reverting to online ordering & curbside pickup. 
Usually this time of year we recommend thorough cleaning out of dead display detritus, retooling & organizing backrooms, cleaning behind desks, discarding old catalogs, refining relationships with local growers & re-evaluating HR policies. This year, if any of that
can be accomplished FANTASTIC! But doing A+ work is not imperative in 2021. Doing C work is fine in these times of unimaginable tension that affects staff, customer & service worker stress levels. We do remind you though that a clean front of house matters to shoppers, pandemic or not!
Product highlights

Produce Departments across the state are working with our local producers who have extended their growing season or based their growing practices on year-round production.
Grateful Greens, based in Brattleboro, VT uses creative, low impact, indoor farming technology that utilizes solar, rainwater, eco-friendly systems. Their sunflower sprouts also known as ‘shoots’ are grown in a nutrient-rich organic soil mix with organic seed from Vermont's own High Mowing Seeds. They offer retail & food service pack sizes. Perfect to enhance your local food sales in Produce or Prepared Foods departments. Available through Black River Produce; look for more distribution options soon!
Rick's Vermont Kitchen
Rick's Vermont Kitchen is a small family-owned company in northern Vermont focusing on healthy, GMO-free products made in small batches. Pictured above, Healthy Living Market in Williston carries Ricks in the Produce Department's refrigerated case, but it is shelf stable & can be stocked with other dressings & marinades in center of the store sections. The natural salad dressings & savory sauces are handcrafted to be a versatile dressing, marinade & condiment.
We have seen across 2020 the desire for shoppers to spend their dollars on local businesses. Keeping money local has been a huge benefit to the state's overall economy. Not only is Rick’s product line available DSD, they utilize local distributor P&S located in Springfield, VT. From production through distribution & into retail stores, local businesses are beneficiaries of a positive economic impact. 
A new round of PPP loans
Changes are specifically related to farmers that impact eligibility for both the prior round of loans (First Draw) & this current round (Second Draw). These loans are forgivable when used in accordance with the guidance provided, primarily for payroll expenses. These changes are very advantageous to farmers & could impact the majority of the farms in our state.  
     Farmers do not need to show a net profit, & if they do not, up to $100,000 in gross income will be used to calculate the loan. This can also apply to a recalculation of First Draw loans. Self-employment income can be included in those recalculations.
    The base period can be either 2019 or 2020 (documented with tax records) which could impact the eligible amount. Those who did not apply for a First Draw Loan can still apply for those now.
    Second Draw Loans can only be applied for if the farmer has already received & spent a First Draw Loan and they saw a 25% reduction in revenue in 2020 relative to 2019.

Champlain Valley Creamery is located in Middlebury not Vergennes. The milk is sourced from Severy Farm, a grass fed dairy in Cornwall.
Genuine Jamaican spices, rubs, sauces & marinades are the basis for this
Vermont BIPOC company. Located in Barnet, owner, Derrick services his accounts with the personal service of a growing DSD operation. When a company owner
is on the road delivering, a store buyer engages in relationship building resulting in highly sought-after personal service. In 2021 Genuine Jamaican is going to grow its retail sales with your support. Contact Derrick for his delivery route info.
Michael Lesser, keeping things safe with his localized food deliveries
Distribution & Supply Chain
Ever wonder how the supply chain works? One decision at a time, across all businesses.
As a food manufacturer, building sales is often looked at as having strong relationships with buyers. But as level one tier producers, reaching new customers requires energy devoted to developing the correct shipping materials. Often it requires knowing the "standards" which include packaging language. Emerging brands learn from supportive B2B alliances, area non-profits with educational programming like ACORN's Producer Buyer Forums & the wealth of services from trade organizations such as VSFA.
Local businesses are up against large national companies when it comes to product packaging. Purchasing the right box for shipping or display can be a financial set back if the choice doesn't really fit the needs of the products. That's where local suppliers can really matter. It can also matter as Covid 19 supply chain disruptions will be more prevalent in 2021. KIS Kombucha, a small scale producer has been hit hard by supply chain disruptions & had to resort to a different bottle & cap during 2020. They are hoping to get back to their standard bottle soon.
You may find your business sustainability ethos in alignment with McClure Packaging Systems & Supplies. With cardboard made of local & Quebec-sourced recycled AND recyclable materials including vegetable based ink, it helps reduce the plasticfication of our oceans. Their team's experience can help develop custom designed packaging, shipping, handling & display systems. Your business interacts with many different points on the supply chain, purchasing the right materials in amounts that work for your business requires dedication.
Growing your knowledge is always best done in a supportive relationship that meets your values & understands the intricacies of your product specs. Locally owned McClure helps small value-added farm producers all the way up to large nationally shipped Vermont products. Looking for the right packaging but not sure what you don't yet know? Begin your process with a local team who can help address upcoming supply chain gaps due to Amazon's impact such as on availability of cardboard for shipping.
In "Dry January" distributors like VT Beer Shepherd help buyers tweak purchases to include non-alcoholic beverages Snowcap & KIS Kombucha!
VT Farmers & Food Producers!
In 2020, Vermont Law School's Center for Agriculture & Food Systems (CAFS) partnered with Conservation Law Foundation to launch the Vermont Legal Food Hub. The program connects income-eligible Vermont farmers, food entrepreneurs, & related organizations with attorneys willing to provide pro bono legal assistance.
Growing a successful food business, it is helpful to have strong legal advice. Read the CAFS Blog for pro-bono stories from the first year. Also available through CAFS is a push for a national food strategy for the Biden Administration.
Become a VVBGA member & attend the January 25th Annual Meeting which will be virtual this year. The complete list of speakers, topics & registration.
Get a tune up with Provender Alliance which created a supportive education series in January. From Burn Out to Self Care & Staff Care the value-priced webinars are a great way to start the new year. Geared to staff, owners, & managers to keep ahead of the uncertainties of 2021. Sign up now
For more events, see the list posted to the Farm to Plate website. This includes the month long Real Organic Project Symposium.
Know the Code-Look for 50
Support VT dairies by choosing milk produced in state. Look for the number 50 in the code which signifies it was bottled in Vermont.
Dairy Buyers- learn more about the codes & where milk comes from. This info comes to us from VAAFM.
Farm to Plate has developed 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 Maple Brief.
Nothing like sweet Vermont storage carrots ordered, received, stocked & sold by the rocking MNFC Produce Crew!
Quote of the Week
"I have the best team I have ever had. Everyone is working well together.
We work. We go home. There's not much else to do in a pandemic.
I have seen the crew grow closer, taking care of each other"
-Kira, Manager Middlebury Natural Food Coop Produce Department

Contact: Annie H Harlow

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

Grateful for the funding support provided by High Meadows Fund
Week 45 of Covid January 14, 2021