Small Bites: April 15, 2021
created for farmers, food manufacturers, distributors, grocers, &
anyone else interested in how food moves

Over $50 Million in VT local sales already tabulated!
It's not too late to BE COUNTED. Food stores, food manufacturers & farmers request your form by emailing
Grocer Conundrum

Stores are preparing to provide higher "comfort levels" for customers "as the spigot opens". This comes with yet again covid-related increased spending. Travelling is picking up & we are hearing from stores that new challenges are surfacing.
Stores with pre-pandemic eateries & cafes are faced with limited budgets to create safe & still-distanced outside seating areas. Balancing increased customer "vaccination comfort" comes the challenges of maintaining staff safety.
As an example, the MKT:Grafton seating area is still closed to the public until children are vaccinated. Known for hiring local kids into their first jobs, some of the staff are under 18. Keeping staff & shoppers safe is still an ongoing priority in the Grafton community.
The dining area at MKT has always been comfortable, with lovely art & well-designed seating. Looking ahead, owner June wants to replicate the comfortable ambiance outside. However, the budget for creating an outside dining area is another covid-related challenge. Prices for lumber, limited construction labor & associated costs have tripled this year due to increased demand.
Sprucing up outdoor dining with limited capital is likely an issue at other stores.
If you want to "talk shop" in a zoom meet up around this topic of outdoor seating on a budget, reach out to us & we can do a small group meet-up. 

Even in a pandemic, businesses come & go or change hands or get retooled. VT Cookie Love, the 'beloved" frozen cookie dough & cookie-scoop-shop is seeking to take the company to the next level through new ownership.
The Morrisville Food Coop, a young business, is "re-branding" itself away from the truncated MOCO to its full name. Under its current leadership new marketing is very visible with retooled in-store branded signage as well as new colors & font in all media interfaces. The new marketing shines more light on Vermont producers too. Well done MFC! (formerly known as MOCO).
The Albany General Store is set to open in a few weeks. The store has been reinvigorated with community involvement through the Albany Community Land Trust. Things are full steam ahead for an opening soon.
Meanwhile in Essex, Sweet Clover Market, is looking for a buyer to continue the legacy of serving their community with tons of local food. This store has made a huge impact on local producers selling direct or through distributors. Their reputation for high quality service & of course Vermont products, is widely known.
Just before closing of the state in 2020, the former Pete's Greens Farm Store in Waterbury opened under new ownership as Woodstock Farmers Market/Waterbury. It temporarily hibernated due to covid. It is back open with convenient & popular meals to go & an ever-increasing abundance of Vermont products across all categories. 
West Farm Carrots are sold at the rebranded Morrisville Food Coop.

Farmers & Food Manufacturers BE COUNTED 
The 2020 local food tracking project seeks DSD sales from farmers & food manufacturers. We aim to capture data on changed shopping habits during covid. Request a form at

A big thank you to all who have already shared your data!
Freshly baked Wild Fern honey-wheat bread & croissants.
Product Highlights

The Wild Fern Honey Wheat Bread is just one of the freshly baked- to-order goods sold from the roadhouse & to local stores including the Swiss Market in Pittsfield. This is a 100% pivot when they had to close their restaurant a year ago. Using local ingredients, each loaf is truly crafted with love along with VT honey, King Arthur flour & other local & farm-fresh ingredients.
Vermont Family Farms sells meat from animals who live their wholes lives in Vermont. They offer beef, pork, poultry & sausages. Found at Healthy Living Market among other stores across the state.
Is Campo di Vino north-central Vermont's best kept secret?
This small, genuinely two-generation Mom & Pop operation produces premium pasta & sauces sold DSD to stores in a distinct route. Products can be found at Willey's in Greensboro over to Morrisville Food Coop & at the classic Italian A&R Market in Barre (a lesser-known one of VTs famed food towns). With limited production & no current plans for a wider distribution area, these stores are sharing the best kept secret with their customers. Find out more about CdV & visit their store to pick up traditional Italian products for personal use when near Barre- but with limited hours, check to see if they are open first. 
Distribution Helping Brands Grow

Food manufacturers & growers, trucking & distribution, food stores & farmstands, marketing & branding companies, together make local food sales happen. It is a mutual thing. 
Product selection geared to the targeted customer base is part of the formula. Fortunately for VT cheese makers & cured meat & specialty food producers, Provisions International is locally owned serving a wide range of producers, stores & buyers.
Their distinctive line of fine food is sold to restaurants, food coops, independent grocers, & specialty food stores across New England. Their distribution range opens up outlets for our food producers that might otherwise be hard to access. Located in White River Junction, VT they are at the crossroads of two major highways providing efficiencies which includes fee-based freight logistics for food producers to gain access to the NY metro area & Boston.
Their knowledgeable staff helps stores curate product mixes for optimal sales & cross promotions. Their expertise enables a product mix that “includes exceptional VT cheese, locally raised game birds, Heritage breed meats & poultry." All products onboarded go through a rigorous assessment to match quality & customer needs. They are proud of their distinct product line & staff is dedicated to the highest standards in goods & services offered. Provisions International may be its name, but "local provisions" make up a large percentage of sales. If you don't know them, check out the details to supply stores, farmstands & cafes & product shipping-logistics to the wider northeast region.
Take Note

VAAFM has just announced updates for 2021 Weights & Measures Farmers Market scale testing:
- No in-person scale clinics this year
- Vendors who have had their scales tested in a prior year will not be required to submit their scales to the Agency for inspection
- Vendors who may be using new scales for the first time are asked to contact the Agency to make an appointment to have their scales tested for compliance to accuracy and specification requirements. More info
Reminder: if your products look as dusty as this, it is likely you have some serious slow sellers. Time to re-merch, re-price, or ditch them. No one likes to buy dirty products. Farm stores might naturally be a bit dustier, so be sure do your best to keep products clean & not too close to the floor, where products get even more exposure to dirt.
If your signage looks like this, then it's time to reboot your in-store processes.
We know it is a challenge to keep up with all the details, but at this store, it is one big oversight!
You may not have a full-fledged signage program, we get that. You may just need to pop a sign up but never, never let it get quite this extreme. Customers prefer well organized shelves & promotions it is important to pay attention to details.
Full Belly Farm was loving the sunny, warm weather (& today's rain too). They are all-hands-on-deck tying up & primping tomatoes ready for June
harvesting. Even with a bit cooler temps coming up, the tomatoes are well on
their way for on-farm sales & perhaps wholesale for stores. Way to go Full
Belly & all the growers extending the local food season.

Is your farmstand ready for customers? Look at your operation through a new set of eyes with the NOFA farmstand audit.
Heads up!

Learn about co-packing with Vermont Specialty Food Association in a webinar, April 21st from 1-2:00. Help grow your food business with an insiders look to scaling. Follow that with the Food Safety & Quality webinar on May 5th at 1:00.
Vermont Fresh Network supports farms, food producers, chefs & food buyers. In these times, it is worth supporting VFN with all their great work promoting our economy.
VAAFM weekly e-news & resources, it's not just for farmersSign up here to receive issues directly to your inbox.
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 extensive collection of Briefs or dig into the one on Supporting Future Farmers
You have likely seen the new line of Cabot products that includes newly launched packaged Mac & Cheese along with triple cream vanilla chai yogurt. New branding & product development are leveraged through a Vermont
private equity firm created to add value & increased national access to one of
Vermont's premiere brands. Read more about it VTBiz.