Around the world in Vermont
Week 21 of Covid-19, August 6
At Sweet Clover Market Summer = Ice Cream because we all need some joy
Grocery Nibbles
Sweet Clover Market in Essex is a hometown store serving all the changing needs of customers. This year, we know that shoppers have made significant changes from growing their own food, to changes in shopping patterns.
The team at SCM continues their creative commitment to customers with enhanced services beyond the now standard covid safety measures. With customers increasing home cooking they have created the "Cooking How-To video series" to develop kitchen techniques & help shoppers make a new kind of dinner using local products. These of course circle back to the products they sell while showcasing staff skills. The market also has a fabulous creemee stand helping build relations with the entire family. Their specialty is creating amazing flavors promoted through all their social media outlets, including sharing the link for the VT Tourism Ice Cream map supporting local farms & producers.
Vermont's numerous chocolatiers all have unique products for their target customers. Tavernier in Brattleboro makes chocolate salami, a festive a hand-rolled vegetarian, sliceable dark chocolate ganache log. It is made with local dairy products, is studded with house-made rosemary shortbread using Vermont's own King Arthur Baking Company flour intermixed with many harmonious flavors including roasted figs & hazelnuts.

Their many unique premium, small batch products are available to stores & farmstands through Provisions International or DSD shipping. They encourage orders via UPS or USPS, if buyers are not currently purchasing through Provisions. The entire product line is also easily available to send to friends & family through their online store. One account, local farm stand Wild Carrot Farm has seen incredible sales growth this year, 50% over last year which has been a pleasant surprise.
From the national picture some interesting points:
"In a major shift in how the company targets its large shopper segments, Sprouts has modified its promotional intensity to focus on products where demand is elastic, meaning customers actually buy more of an item when it is promoted instead of purchasing the same quantity of an item at a lower, margin-eroding price.
“Gone are the days when our message was all about price,” Sinclair said. Also gone is the retailer’s print advertisements that regularly filled mailboxes. In the second quarter, Sinclair said Sprouts went all digital & improved its advertising effectiveness in the process." from Retail Reader 7/30/2020
"This summer we work three times as hard for 3/4 of the sales. But we are feeling fortunate. We know things could be worse despite having lost so many restaurant & college accounts making us shift all our energy to creating new ways to sell our pork products. We have been making it work & are grateful for our all our local accounts"-Kelly at Snug Valley Farm
Simple Supper Promotion
Vermont specialty food producers Global Village Cuisine, creates a fantastic line of ready-made, allergy friendly, African meals for everyone to enjoy. The super flavorful dinners & samosas are available through Associated Buyers, direct to store delivery (DSD), & their online store.
Many grocery stores have a new focus in buying products from Vermont minority owned businesses with defined social missions. Global Village aligns their mission with African inspired meals. Sold at nearly every Vermont coop & natural food store they have a loyal customer base of high turnover products. They also sell throughout the region at Whole Foods.
Grocers can easily cross promote with a delightful dessert or side of fresh locally grown fruit such as refreshing Harvest of the Month August melons!
Benito's a small- craft Vermont hot sauce company partners with local producers & ships nationally. Available to stores & farmstands through VT Roots & Lesser Distribution, P&S & Associated Buyers.
Since covid, they have seen increased sales at farmstands & specialty food stores along with their online store sales up 400% & Amazon, up 500%. This is helping to make up for decreased revenue due cancellations of in-person events & tastings. As mentioned in the above quote from Snug Valley Farm, there are a lot of changes with store buyers & shoppers. Lost sales are being made up, but with higher labor & handling costs that were not originally budgeted for in 2020.
"My sense is that at this time, while retail in person events may be down considerably or in many cases non existent, farm stands, food coop stores, and traditional grocery stores across Vermont are doing quite well."-Ben
Vermont Roots serving retail stores & farmstands with a wide array of Vermont products
Distribution/Supply-side Nuggets
Vermont Roots, is a distributor selling local specialty food products to independent grocers, supermarkets, specialty food stores & farmstands.
They report an uptick in sales at farm stands, with an increase in farms as new clients. The upcoming Open Farm Week, provides another opportunity for producers across categories to experience even more sales growth.
VT Roots has brought on Vermont Maple & Smokehouse BBQ sauces. The line of three new products are now rolling out just in time for local grilled meat promotions. Contact VT Roots for details.
A customer of VT Roots, Butch's Harvest'ore located in Walden, is going gangbusters. This is a very positive news; way back in March projections for small retail food business seemed bleak. Butch's has loads of VT specialty products & fresh produce. They regularly promote easy meals like homemade pizza with dough made locally by Weaks Peak Farm & local cheese & produce. 
On August 6th, Good Food Mercantile with VAAFM, hosted a virtual food tasting event with specialty producers across Vermont. Among the many producers highlighting their products were Parish Hill Creamery, Babette's Table, Taverier Chocolates, Savoure.
Farm Fresh Bites

Wilson Herb Farm Market in Greensboro is selling a wide variety of Vermont products to locals & the usual influx of summer folks. Sales are through in person shopping & online with curbside pick up allowing social distancing & quarantining to continue for travelers.
Beyond stocking a range of their own herb-based apothecary items, they sell Meyers Produce, fresh flowers from Brassknocker Farm, popsicles from Adam's Berry Farm, Savoure Handcrafted Sodas, Boundbrook Farm rice & Sisters of Anarchy farm to cone pints of handmade ice & cream made from their own fruits.
Other products are purchased through Provisions International & the VT Food Hub Network partners Green Mountain Farm Direct & Farm Connex.
Fresh melons, peaches blueberries, strawberries & plums at farmstands & stores throughout the state speak to early August in Vermont. Share recipes with shoppers at Harvest of the Month
Photo Credit ThinkVT
AALV & UVM Extension has been working hard to share covid related information & resources with New Farms for New Americans. The farmers come from many cultures producing culturally significant crops.

The programs are geared to meeting the cultural needs of Vermont's refugee community. This includes resource "assessment & business education for members of the Vermont Goat Collaborative, a coop of Bhutanese farmers producing goat meat for local New American families." They have also trained rice farmers on greenhouse management & water systems development to flood paddies for rice, one of the most culturally important crops. In an effort to increase cultural awareness and provide education in a culturally appropriate manner, staff have been trained in Nepali & Kirundi languages, the languages of Bhutanese Burundian resettled refugees. Learn more about the programs, see the tools to successfully transition new farmers to Vermont's climate & opportunities.
Did You Know?
There are some fabulous free tools to help specialty food producers & farmers creating value-added products to take their passion & turn it into profitable business ventures. Friend of VSFA, Alli Ball Consulting has "Food Biz Wiz" podcasts (available on Spotify & her website), video trainings & Facebook posts. We recommend emerging (& established brands) duck in for some free trainings!
Open Farm Week kicks off August 10th! All over the state, farms of all types have social distance activities & events. Find more at DiginVT & at Strolling of the Heifers for Green Mt Girls virtual farm tour.
The Vermont ice cream map, goes great with DiginVT Pick Your Own Fruit Guide. Blueberries, peaches, plums & ice cream, YAY!
Thank you to the farmers, producers, distributors & suppliers for providing information for this update.

Contact Annie H Harlow
to share your info & seek retailing business resources

Funding support provided by USDA & VAAFM & High Meadows Fund