Farmers cultivating success as direct marketers

by Erica Shaffer
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 Most sales made directly to consumers occurred at farmers markets and on-farm stores.
USDA reports farmers sold $8.7 billion in locally produced food directly to consumers.

WASHINGTON – Farmers generated $8.7 billion in revenue in 2015 from sales of locally produced foods sold directly to consumers, the US Dept. of Agriculture said in its first-ever Local Food Marketing Survey.

The survey aims to establish benchmark data on local food marketing practices. The report includes data for both fresh and value-added products such as meat and cheese.

More than 167,000 US farms participated in direct marketing practices, USDA said. Farms selling directly to institutions and intermediaries such as wholesale operations, generated the most revenue at $3.4 billion. Approximately 115,000 operations with on-farm stores and farmers markets brought in $3 billion in revenue, followed by sales directly to retailers with $2.3 billion from more than 23,000 operations nationwide.

Pennsylvania led the US in the number of farms selling directly to consumers with more than 6,000 operations engaged in direct-to-consumer marketing sales. USDA found that only 8 percent of farms sold their products online despite 73 percent of all farms using direct marketing practices having internet access.

Farmers sold $8.7 billion worth of locally produced foods directly to consumers in 2015.
The Local Food Marketing Survey includes value-added products such as meat and cheese.

The top five states leading in food sales were:

  • California, $2,869 million
  • Michigan, $459 million
  • New York, $441 million
  • Pennsylvania, $439 million
  • Wisconsin, $431 million

Among the other findings, approximately 300,000 individuals were involved in decision making for the farms that sold directly in 2015, USDA reported. Sixty-two percent of that population was men while 38 percent were women, which represents a higher proportion of women than among all farms, according to data from the 2012 Census of Agriculture.

The survey also found that 77 percent of farms engaged in direct marketing had farmed 10 or more years, and 14 percent were US military veterans.

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By Carlos 12/21/2016 2:32:22 PM
Of course, REVENUE does not equal PROFIT. It would be interesting to get a more in depth financial analysis...(asset use efficiency, profitability, operational leverage, etc. Hopefully in the next survey.