Small Bites May 26, 2021
dedicated to the VT food system supply chain creating opportunities
to sell more VT products to more buyers

Is it the Creemee Factor?

We have all heard how our vaccination rate is the envy of the country, our "last mile" has increased rates through a collaboration with the VT Dairy Farmers & VAAFM creemee coupon & these participating stands.
The state is cranking on "creemee-vaccinations". We are just 13,474 creemees (I mean vaccines) away from our goal of 80% VT vaccinated when remaining restrictions are lifted! What a year it has been since last Memorial Weekend.
Often overlooked in the conversation, is the "base" of the creemee. Kingdom Creamery in Hardwick, makes creemee base using single-source milk from their family's herd. It consistently wins awards (think 7 Daisies of Seven Days) but no one really knows this because it is the creemee stand that grabs the award.
In the world of Vermont creemees, the base is either single source from the Michaud's Kingdom Creamery farm or made from milk aggregated under the Hood label. The award winning base made on the farm is shipped throughout VT through multiple distributors including CAE & Wilcox. They also make base-mix for customized ice cream-makers across the state which then add their flavors.
Some of VT's best ice cream companies be it creemees, pints or 3-gallon pack sizes for special events comes from the Michaud's Kingdom Creamery of Vermont. Their single source milk comes from gals like this happy cow & her happy handler! Increase your ice cream sales this summer with all the options available from KKoV, contact the farm directly for products & distribution details.
"If only our staffing issues could be resolved with incentives as simple as a creemee!"
As mentioned last week, staffing is a huge issue across the spectrum of farm & food businesses. With summer here it seems everyone is looking for staff.
It appears to be a "sellers’ market" with people looking for a job as the seller. They can be pickier, making more requests & gaining more leverage.
Many incentives are rolling out as the season kicks in this weekend. Restaurants are reopening & require workers across the skill set. Workers who had been laid off in 2020 can transfer their skills into potentially better paying positions. They can spend extra time or effort seeking jobs more suitable to their changed perception of the time-money-life valuation.
Incentives not considered prior to the pandemic are fast becoming imperative; sign on bonuses, free phones, free housing, immediately accessed benefits including health, vacation accrual etc. Jobs in every sector are now in higher competition than ever for workers needed--- yesterday. On top of the immediacy of filling slots, comes expedited training for new hires in completely new roles. It is a hard time for stores, distributors & shippers.
Summer Product Highlights

WOW! It is the last week in May. Memorial Weekend. Time to seriously think of VT marinades, seasonings & specialty foods for the summer BBQ season that goes all the way to October's foliage weekend extravaganzas.
Up in Richford, the Main Street Market is stocking gateway producer, Tracey's Maple Jalapeno Salsa. That sounds so good. Made & sold directly in its community.
Speaking of maple flavorings! Smith Maple Farm has a great all-natural maple ketchup. It is widely available across VT through VT Roots, an independent distributor based in Rutland serving stores & farmstands.
Another product to know for increasing seasonal sales is Blank Slate Good Food Award finalist, Sichuan Chili Oil also available through VT Roots. It fits many categories: vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, egg-free, dairy-free, soy-free and sugar-free. Based in Townsend VT it is sold across the country as well as in many VT stores & farmstands.
Cross promotion generates sales. Remember to place Little Bottles Spice with your meat & impulse displays. The four blends Rojo, Jerk, Original & Java are everything you need to increase flavor (& sales!). Stock them today shipped DSD to stores, add-on CSA's & farmstands.
VT Specialty Food Association Spring Annual Meeting 

The annual meeting is Wednesday, June 9th from 1:00pm to 3:30pm & is virtual. A keynote speaker from King Arthur Baking Company, a presentation on Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) & a session How to sell on InstagramView the full agenda here. If you can’t make the event, register anyway to receive links to recordings.
Keeping up with Demand

Vermont is rich in specialty food producers. Every corner has unique products brought to market. Local distributors like Green Mountain Farm Direct deliver to coops as noted in the above picture in Buffalo Mt Coop. Though some producers sell directly into their community as "gateway products". These tend to be small or emerging brands introduced to their community (ex Tracey’s Maple Jalapeno Salsa). They are also seen by stores as gateway to bringing on more local products. What lies ahead for this summer season is an expectation for continued strong demand for VT products as DSD gateway or through all the distributors crisscrossing the state.
VSFA hosts regular meetups around specific topics to help producers gain an understanding on how to bring products to market & meet buyers' needs. The format always includes ample time built-in Q & A for specific businesses. This week, the lead speaker was Dan Reilly of Equinox Food Brokers providing key insights & real-world experience on bringing products to buyers.
We know stores are swamped with limited staffing, but if there is ever an opportunity, the VSFA "lounge" meet ups are informative & you can learn firsthand about VT products too!
This week's topic on cold calling provided useful insights for buyers & sellers. A few key points for producers to grab the attention of buyers:
Create a well-organized 1-2 page sell sheet with all your contact info on it
Include business photo & company summary
Highlight product specs & product photo, pack size, prices with UPC codes
Include wholesale price with SRPs & store target margin %
Learn the "language" of your product pack sizes
Include "selling points" attributes that are favorable on how the store can make money selling your products
Include PDF, website links & business cards
Know what category your product will be shelved in, (stores may have different categories that your product might fit in)
Cold Calls: Dan's Tips
1.   You can only do it once- it is "cold" because it is only done once
2.   Focus on getting contact info who is the actual buyer; are you the person who makes the "purchasing decision"
3.   Walk away with the buyer’s contact email, phone extension etc
It is an early start to strawberry season at Full Belly Farm in Monkton! Can you believe it! Fresh berries will be strong from May well into July through their mix of varieties that cross the season.
The farm made several changes over the winter including a new farmstand to better serve customers & allow for a wider range of products from small distributors including BOL deliveries through Farm Connex. Local bakery Slow Fire, delivers fresh baked croissants & other goods that enhance weekend sales.
They have a vibrant June- July PYO operation as well has an expanded early season bedding-plant selection for home gardeners. You can follow along with their regular updates on the latest produce coming in from the fields, berry-picking conditions, & news from the farm stand which is open Wed-Sunday & on Memorial Day from 10-5:00. PYO begins in Mid June.
Farmers into Retailers: Take Note

Farmstands have expanded product selection across categories. Some are full-service year-round stores, others are seasonal stands. Many are buying from Green Mountain Farm Direct & shipping through Farm Connex. A few markets increasing sales of VT producers across all categories are The Roots Farm Market, Peacham Hollow Farm, Pete's Greens Farmstand, Chandler Pond Farm, & located in South Hero Arbor Farm Market is the newest farm store on the GMFD route expanding sales to locals & summer peeps alike.
A reminder for farmstands...NOFA has the Farmstand Audit Tool & offers technical assistance to improve on-farm retail sales.
PYO Basics: PYO risk reduction
Eat Local App: Search PYO farms
In case you missed this last week...
VAAFM Retail Licenses Be sure you are in the know for products you sell at your farm store.
Frozen Dessert: Agency licenses all creemee machines & companies making gelato, ice cream & other frozen desserts such as cheesecake & ice creams sandwiches. Inspection includes adherence to food safety protocols & proper handling of ingredients.
Milk: Businesses selling milk should register with the Agency.