2Bits: Food Trends-Grow One!
10 steps to help you decide if you should follow a food trend
and grow it for your customers!
Written by Susan Jaster
Learning about food trends that you can grow or raise, then market to your customers carries some risk.
Susan shares her insight on this process and offers some helpful tips! Susan Jaster has a passion for helping farmers! She has served as a Farm Outreach Worker for Lincoln University, since 2009, in the Innovative Small Farmers Outreach Program under Lincoln University Cooperative Extension and Missouri AgrAbility, serving in Lafayette, Johnson, Cass and Ray Counties, Missouri.
Food Trends! How do you decide when to buy-in so you can cash-in?
Trends are tricky, major “food-creating-companies” make their own trends; many have a staff of food and beverage watchers who select the trends to follow next year.
A good way to try this is to “search online” in several different search engines for “European food trends 2018”, “produce growers trade magazines” and “local food culture magazines”.
Check during the year-end holidays and then around mid-year to see how many of the trends have made it to your region.
The world-wide-web is now so ingrained in our lives that trends can show up at an alarming rate, “fidget-spin-ning” on to the next big thing.
As agricultural producers, we must do some research and preparation to prevent disaster but jump in early on a trend, keeping a watchful eye on customers.
Know your growing zone. Will adding one new annual vegetable break your budget? Educating your customer is as important as knowing their food preferences and buying habits.
So when do you decide to buy-in on a fifty-fifty chance to create a trend since you are the only vendor-producer who paid attention?
- Read through the many lists of trends that come out via the media to find “repeats”.
- Is it a super-food or some other “healthy” type food.
- Can it be grown in your growing zone or a high tunnel?
- Is it similar to something already in your portfolio of produce so customers can easily switch to the new high-end product?
- Will you need to learn a new growing technique; will it require special inputs?
- Can you find it in your favorite seed catalog?
- What is the “normal” yield; add ten percent to cover loss of any kind; how many seeds will you need to meet yield and cover production costs?
- Are your customers averse to new foods?
- Is it already popular in stores in larger cities?
- What is your gut feeling?
A producer uses this process to try snack-size cucumbers:
In 2015, a producer in Lafayette County, MO, tracking trends, found that children in Europe could buy healthy vegetable snacks from vending machines.
The most popular snack was mini cucumbers or snacking cucumbers sold in “four-count” cellophane bags including a flavored salt packet.
She gave away a recipe for flavored salt on her social-media page and let everyone know about the new item, continuing to promote it at her farmers’ markets. Snacking cucumbers are still requested by her customers in 2018.
Keep in mind that a fifty-fifty chance is still a risk.
Do your homework. Call me if I can help.
2BuyAg met Susan when she asked us to share the 2BuyAg story at a Missouri Specialty Producers Guild meeting in early 2018. Susan has a wealth of agricultural knowledge. We’re so grateful she was excited about sharing it with you!
Susan Jaster has been assisting farmers and ranchers with practical, biological, resilient solutions to agricultural issues and product marketing since 2009 for Lincoln University Cooperative Extension Innovative Small Farmers’ Outreach Program and AgrAbility. She is a sheep rancher who uses adaptive grazing techniques for soil health and water quality conservation. Please contact her at 816-589-4725 or firstname.lastname@example.org