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Marketing & Market Development

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Marketing local food is the strategy a producer uses to connect their products with consumers. Local food can be sold directly to consumers or through intermediary markets such as institutions. Direct-to-consumer sales often require understanding customer demand as well as product labeling and farm certifications. Intermediary channels often require market development and strategies for connecting with both the buyers and the distributors who service those buyers. This page provides links to resources for different market types and helpful strategies to consider for engaging consumers, links to resources that help farmers with required certifications, and links to programs that support the development of intermediary markets.

On This Page

Local Food Market Development Intermediary Markets
Direct-to-Consumer Markets Certifications & Branding

Local Food Market Development

Direct-to-Consumer Markets

Producer to Consumer

  • Online Sales: This page provides resources and information for producers getting started with online sale methods. New resources will be added as they become available.
  • Agritourism & Farm Visits: Agritourism is a form of consumer engagement where farms “offer a variety of recreational, educational, and tourism activities to make their finances more resilient” (Extension Tourism). These activities can include farm tours.
  • Community-Supported Agriculture: The Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) model is a marketing model whereby local farmers offer unique farm products to buyers who will subscribe to receive a weekly or monthly box of fruits, vegetables, fresh flowers, eggs, meats, cheeses, or any assortment of local farm products.
  • Farmers’ Markets: Includes information and resources that may be of interest to farmers’ market managers, farmers’ market vendors, and engaged residents developing their local and community-based food systems, as well as links to the following sub-pages:

Intermediary Markets

Producer to Intermediary to Consumer

  • Farm to Institution: Access resources and information related to farm to school, farm to preschool/early child care, farm to university, farm to hospital, and related programs.
    • Farm to School & Farm to Cafeteria: Farm to School is a movement that strives to build a youth’s connection to healthy, local food through school gardening, farm field trips, hands-on cooking and nutrition and local sourcing of fresh fruits and vegetables to school cafeterias.
  • Retail Markets: This page contains information of interest to farmers selling into retail markets, retailers and other buyers sourcing locally produced food, and service-providers providing technical assistance to both producers and buyers.
  • Local Food and Cooperatives: An extensive introduction to co-op models, including an introduction to the member-ownership structure and steps to forming a cooperative. Cooperatives and food hubs often provide support for farmers through market development as well as through aggregation services.

Certifications & Branding

  • State & Regional Branding Programs: Learn about the Got to Be NC, Piedmont Grown, and Appalachian Grown certifications; all great resources for NC producers interested in adding a sense of local authenticity into their marketing efforts.
  • Information on GAP Certification: Learn about the Good Agricultural Practices certification program, a valuable opportunity for farms to demonstrate their dedication to food safety to consumers.