Small Bites
Maple is Running-
it is time to squeeze in Spring cleaning!
March 10, 2021
created for farmers, food manufacturers, distributors, grocers, & anyone else interested in how food moves
click below "view entire message" for all the content
Sonia's Salsa -caught in supply chain gaps
Product Merchandising
Stores take pride creating optimal product placement & merchandising opportunities. Always with some challenges embedded in the job, a new one has emerged because of supply chain distributions due to covid.
Food manufacturers are getting squeezed by gaps in availability of glass containers, cardboard shipping boxes & aluminum. This delays production schedules leading to gaps in product availability through distributors, DSD shipping, & availability through their webstores.
Sonia's Salsa is only the most recent VT company seeking glass jars for its products & reaching out to its business peer group through the VSFA. Other companies are sharing their supplies or potential new suppliers & resources. The offerings may not be 100% perfect but it can help keep products on the shelf.
Store buyers will be seeing slight changes in product packaging such as different colored lids, a result of production gaps due to covid. Stores will also see more interruptions in product availability. Often buyers "blame" distributors for out of stocks, but the next 6 months the gaps are likely supply chain disruptions. It is important for store merchandisers & buyers to prepare their mindset to be flexible. 
March in your produce department is a perfect time to deep clean & retool. The end of winter storage crops dovetails with early crops from the south. Our local greenhouses are cranking "spring tonics". Do a makeover that inspires shoppers to ease away from hearty winter foods to "soft-sensation" spring foods to revitalize & introduce the change of seasons to the diet- & to the department. If you are looking for a full produce make-over with newly designed racks, contact our cohort Mark Mulcahy for a comprehensive assessment of your needs.
Perhaps a review of your systems can be done with free download tools from Seven Roots Consulting Group: Their resources are extensive & include a store design checklist, tips & tricks of design elements & resources on store refrigeration.

Prepared Foods Tools From a Pro

Because this was a hot topic last week, here are the links from Allen Seidner of Rising Stars Seminars & founder of Thought for Food Consulting. His free useful tools help improve prepared foods margins. Knowing how to launch a new deli item is an important & cost saving step. Here is a manual food cost calculator to use, (ask & I will send you his excel-formula version). Does your deli-prepared foods need a full fledged tune up? Allen is ready
to help you Contact him directly
Product Highlights: Food to Know
Vermont Spatlz is available for quick family friendly dinners. Gluten free & sold in both retail & food service pack sizes this Vermont company can help increase your purchases of VT ingredients for Everyone Eats program or your food service meal plans. In-store meals can be the gateway for shoppers to become introduced to VT products.
VT Spatzle is shipped DSD & through Wilcox to River Valley Market, Mehuron's Market, Jericho Market, Brattleboro Coop & the Dorset Union Store. These are just a few VT stores that carry their product. They also sell regionally reaching stores in NH & NY. 
Farrell Distributing, well known for its commitment to servicing wine, beer, mead & ciders also has Vermont non-alcohol beverages. To promote the season, be sure to carry SAP! the maple based sparkling water. The company has increased its range of products, all available through Farrell, so you can up your VT beverage category sales now.
to see how the season goes from the snowy woods to the shopping cart. Market your maple products & include maple in your prepared foods with bulk Slopeside or sell single serve syrup energy boosters with waffles to fuel outside fun.
The pandemic has sparked a huge increase in Vermont maple sales due to families eating more breakfast & baking at home.
Online orders have increased because of the pandemic's impact on shopping. Local food manufacturers take extra care to build their customer relationships for repeat buying. Curated marketing is part of the plan, so is care taken in packaging- be it to encourage reusing packaging materials like Boox or using cardboard strong enough to prevent a chicken from getting to the Tavernier Chocolates! (BTW the chicken lost out & the chocolates were fine!)
Mable a 3rd party platform
Moving Food: Distribution
Matching products to meet your customers requires due diligence. This is as true for stores as it is for distributors. Technology has a place on the continuum of customer trends & product visibility for distributors, stores & ultimately the shopper or "end-consumer".
3rd party e-comm platforms have enhanced the reach of Vermont products to new markets. Store buyers who use the platforms have shifted products on their shelves keeping their spending more locally focused.
The Mable platform integrates with existing distributor catalogs making it easier for them to help stores fill their shelves with easy ordering & increased product offers. For distributors they have many offerings to streamline order processing with mobile bar codes, updated monthly product catalog, customer specific pricing structures, plenty of images with extensive product specs. All of this helps distributors upsell & cross promote products for sales velocity increases & customer engagement. Associated Buyers has a history of supporting emerging Vermont brands and by using Mable they continue this trend while saving sales-team labor.
Mable's ordering platform helps independent stores find, buy & re-order products by enhancing product visibility for store buyers. Specialty food producers have found that because of 3rd party platforms, they are direct shipping to stores they would not have otherwise considered. With the goal of simplifying the wholesale experience for brands to sell into grocery, convenience & specialty stores they are committed to making it easier for emerging brands to do business with independently owned stores across county. Mabel was the brainchild of Paradise market owners who were committed to selling Vermont products but had difficulty streamlining ordering or even knowing what companies are out there trying to sell to stores.
Each 3rd party platform has its own format but at Mable, they allow food manufacturers to keep "existing accounts to reorder online or via the Mable app, free of charge. We market your brand and take just 12.5% on orders from new accounts we bring you." For many producers this platform has streamlined ordering & reduced costs through efficiency with invoicing & packing slips.
High Meadows Farm is loving this warm sun!
Farmer Resources: Improve Retail Operations

Just Cut- the minimally processed VT vegetable program is looking to buy red & green cabbage for processing in the range of 200 - 1000 pounds. 

Deep Root Organic Coop seeks organic produce from area growers. Reach out if you have roots crops. They are also interested in bringing on new growers 802-730-8126

 Check out NOFA's webinar: farm retail  

March Farm Goal: Check out the heat loss calculator posted by UVM
Recommended Resources & Organizations

We have an amazing network 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. Here are highlights for this week: take a minute to check out them out & follow up with cross-promotion hashtags, likes etc.

List jobs & events & news on the Farm to Plate website
Community Action:
Eat Local VT is ACORN’s new mobile-friendly guide to local farms & food producers. Available to download for free in the Apple App Store & Google Play Store. The app makes it easy for residents & visitors to find & connect with the nearly 250 farmers & food producers in our community.
The app serves as an online version of ACORN's Local Food and Farm Guide, & was developed in conjunction with Middlebury College’s MiddDev student club. It is sponsored by Co-operative Insurance & has been developed for statewide application. It has received great exposure & interest from around the state to help promote producers. The MiddDev team had a fantastic "pandemic project" with great results.
Food Service & Everyone Eats

Small Bites created a list of VSFA producers that have bulk sizes perfect for VT Everyone Eats. Each business ships through a variety of methods. Check out the list knowing it does not include all food service products made in Vermont, but is meant as a clue to begin to include more of our locally produced foods in your store meal programs.
Food service managers are encouraged to buy more VT products. Rhapsody fermented specialty products are available DSD, Myers Produce, Pumpkin Village, & BRP. Order today for your prepared meals.
Farm to Plate Strategic Plan:
The Plan contains a vision for Vermont's food system in 2030, 15 strategic goals with 87 objectives, & recommendations for action. It is based on a series of 54 food system product, market, & issue briefs highlighting current conditions, bottlenecks & gaps, opportunities, & recommendations. Explore the Consumer Demand Brief or choose another from the extensive list of Briefs.