Small Bites July 14, 2021
dedicated to the VT food system supply chain-
creating opportunities to sell more VT products to more buyers

From the Grocery Aisle
Everyone seems to be straight out busy. Dollars are flowing into stores; staff are jamming to receive & put away orders in a timely way. Brattleboro Food Coop GM has written on the subject to help members & all shoppers better understand the ongoing challenges:
"Staff shortages are, as I said, the new normal. This is true for all of our suppliers as well. One week in June, we did not get orders from one of our foodservice providers that we normally get two from, and another delayed their delivery by two days. These supply issues have quite a ripple effect, through our kitchen and down to our counter. In our meat department too, they are unable to get meats from several of our suppliers who have similar struggles in their packing plants. When we find supply, the costs have increased significantly, not surprisingly, and you will see this effect as well." Read more here
These challenges are now across the board in all types of food stores. One thing noticeable it takes longer to stock shelves, yet overall, we have heard that customers are patient. Low staffing across all sectors seems to be trickling into people’s consciousness & newfound patience is in place. Shelves are not necessarily stocked as quickly & out of stocks or production gaps continue to create holes.
Overall customers are not in a tizzy. That's a good thing. Maybe because we are over 80% vaccinated & we are stronger together as we continue to navigate the various economic fallout from C19. Maybe we are trying a kinder way to be.
Vermonters taking care to be kind shows up in other ways too. Sweet Clover Market in Essex stocks a free pantry. This helping hand is an opportunity for customers to make a purchase for donation. The store continues to offer their customers online ordering & delivery service as a way meet all their shoppers' needs.
At JJ Hapgood, in Peru summer is full swing. On top of all the fantastic breakfast, lunch, dinner & groceries that goes out the door, the new team is working on uploading a new POS system. With this comes an enhanced focus to add a VT Local attribute. This is great news! By 2023 when the next local food tracking project undertakes its count, JJ Hapgood will have some excellent sales data to bring to the table. Congratulations to the team! It's not easy taking this on in the busy summer months while still offering the added service of online orders along. 
Take Note: Tax Update
July 1, 2021 VT law exempts taxation of products used in connection with the menstrual cycle. Is your POS system updated to be in compliance & no longer charging tax?
Around the state, check out our stores & products when tooling about
Well stocked & selling tons of local food is the Lawrence Smoke House in Townsend. A member of the Riverbend Market family, the store features Vermont cheese, meat & maple.
They serve locals & stopping at the shop is a long tradition for campers
& boaters who come to the area to relax. When they go home, they then order their favorite VT products online!
Along the west coast of New England is Orwell, with Buxton's well-stocked general store. Specializing in a well-stocked meat & deli counter, they serve all the needs of campers, boaters, bikers, & visitors to the nearby MT Independence Historic Site on Lake Champlain. The store had lots of July 4th weekend traffic selling loads of scooped ice cream!
Merchandisers check out the Lincoln
General Store's display idea! Located along the New Haven River, a high traffic summer swimming, kayaking & lounging area. The store keeps the river safer by promoting wine in cans rather than bottles. WE LOVE THIS IDEA! Go ahead & promote in your store to keep the rivers & beaches free from broken glass.
Promote Vermont award winning cider for summer folks to enjoy crisp refreshing Vermont! Shacksbury, is made in Vergennes & are great summer refreshments made from VT apples.
In our big chill this week, we celebrate Sweet Doe Gelato made in small batches & delivered through Food Connects & DSD. Widely sold at coops across the state, it is also available at farm stores such as Roots Market in Middlesex & Free Verse Farm Shop in Chelsea. Looking for an alternative to ice cream? Stock this lovely goat milk product.
Even tiny retail spaces make a difference to a community. It may be small, but this is a mighty farm stand located at the infamous summer music rave & amazing bakery Wild Fern, located on busy Rt 1 in Stockbridge. The stand is filled with local maple honey & other products. Travelers love this little spot to grab VT products for their stay in the area.
Are you challenged in training staff to understand food retail? Nudge them along with Farm to Plate training tools. They offer insights to boost sales through skill-set enhancement. Check out the one on End Cap Basics
File Under Keeping Things Local

In this super busy season, when folks are now on the move our local food system is humming along. Staff are working long hours to uphold the system. Our networks of producers self-distributing, our food hubs running the main highway corridors & cross docking throughout the state, helps make food available to stores.
Food Connects & Green Mountain Farm Direct work to make the connections with vans & trucks picking up & then delivering. Sometimes products are inventoried & other times they are simply a logistics partner operating under BOL services. With increases in demand, dedicated staff make it all work. Speaking of dedicated staff, Amrita Parry who helped build the GMFD food hub is moving on to work in the retail sector. Amrita's commitment to Vermont food runs deep & her skill set is warmly welcomed at the Morrisville Food Coop. We will see you in the store Amrita!
Calling all VT Specialty food makers of BBQ sauces, condiments, rubs, or marinades. You'd better know about the Sauce King Competition in NYC. Our friends love our VT products so click here to get the low-down on the hot stuff & get registered with your flavorful VT products!
Vermont Produce Highlights

Did someone say corn? Indeed early corn is showing up across the state. That means we are crazy bountiful in our produce departments & at our farmstands. Shucks, it's time to prepare your corn tables for "big, messy" displays. (see below)

And what about our vibrant fruit!
Cherries oh my!
Raspberries in abundance
Blueberries keep coming on!
Strawberries linger about
Vermont plums & local peaches are harvested very, very soon

See our produce tips for improving sales with some display basics
You may not agree, but when it comes to corn & the shopper, a display “tumble of corn” is the preferred way to sell. Corn that is "too organized & styled" can reduce the customer experience.
There is something wholly fulfilling for shoppers to choose corn in a tactile way. Even though corn ear worm is mostly a thing of the past, folks do like opening the ears to see the robustness of the ear. In other words, a little mess is a farm-y feeling that secures the shopper's choice. A display that is too perfect can limit the corn experience. It might look awesome but people generally like the free-style farm look.
Our tips: Create a tumble display, open a few ears by pulling down the husk to showcase the freshness & variety, have bags handy, match your display to anticipated sales, & price by the each & for volume sales such as "baker’s dozen" 13 ears for the price of 12. Do not wait to sell old dried out corn before putting freshly harvest corn out. The sugars in corn change quickly, the dried corn turns starchy & is less enjoyable to eat. 
Local produce available through many locally owned distributors including Upper Valley Produce, Food Connects, & Farm Connex

Farmers with retail farm-stands: are you listed on the NOFA map? Help new shoppers find your farm

Need blueberries for your stand or CSA? Knoll Farm & Charlotte Berry Farm these two operations may be able to help fulfill your needs.
Travelers & store buyers are using the EAT LOCAL app, an easy way to find producers in the Champlain Valley. ACORN anticipates this going statewide & formatting for desk tops.
Summer is here. Tomatoes are ripe. Basil is flush.

How's your mozzarella display? Maplebrook Farm handmade award-winning cheese is an easy sell especially in these summer months. They offer several varieties to round out your cheese case. Widely sold to all stores in the northeast through many distributors including Provisions International. Available to farmstands too, making it a perfect complement to the flush of tomatoes coming on.
Vermont Creemee Trail: Promote to all who come to your store or farm. VT Creemees represent our Stronger Together" 80+% vaccination rate too. For those out of staters reading this, creemees are Vermont's new branding!