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Unit 7: Marketing Specialty Forest Crops
Assessing Markets and Consumer Behavior
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Markets for Different Products

What Kind of Market Would Work Best For My Product?

There are three basic market options to consider; retail or direct market, wholesale market, and niche market. Most NTFCs can easily be sold in all three markets. However, there are some cases where this is not possible. Ginseng, for example, usually cannot be sold in the direct market and instead must be sold through a broker. In the following table, adapted from Jonathan Kays and Joy Drohan, some examples are provided of each of the three basic market types.

Prouduct/Enterprise Retail or Direct Market Wholesale Market Niche Market
Shitake, Oyster, and Other Mushrooms Farmers market Broker, specialty stores, restaurants Asian markets, health food stores
Ginseng/Goldenseal - Broker Asian markets, health food stores, day spas
Walnut, Pecan, Hazelnut, or Other Nut Production Farmers market, internet, or catalog sales Broker health food stores
Bramble Fruit Crops (raspberries, blackberries, currants, gooseberries) Farmers market, roadside stands, pick-your-own, CDAs Stores health food stores
Fruit Trees (apples, pears, peaches, etc) Farmers market, roadside, stands, pick-your-own, CSAs Broker, stores, restaurants health food stores, coffee shops, gourmet restaurants
Honey Individuals, roadside stands, farmers markets Stores, restaurants, cooperative health food stores, coffee shops, gourmet restaurants
Value-Added Food Processing (slaughterhouse, bakery, canning, microdairy processing) Farmers markets, roadside stands, fairs and festivals Specialty stores, restaurants, broker gift shops, health food stores, coffee shops
Herbs (Echinacea, basil, etc.) Farmers, markets, roadside stands Broker, stores, restaurants health food stores, day spas, ethnic markets, gourmet restaurants
[Farmer's Markets Image]
Farmers Market Final: www.foodmuseum.com
  • Direct to consumer sales cut out the middleman and return greater profits. More marketing time and a greater variety of value added products are required.

  • Selling products through existing retailers increases the exposure of your product to the public. Partnering with other retailers also eliminates overhead costs and reduces time spent advertising. On the other hand, you will not have access to your entire inventory, as you will provide the retailer with items to sell. You have less control over the conditions in which your product is sold, which can be problematic when your product requires special consideration (such as mushrooms that require refrigeration). Additionally you do not have control over whether your product is actually featured in the retailers advertisements.

  • Consignment is a strategy in between the previous two. Through this strategy, you retain ownership of your product, but the store will advertise, display and sell your product. The retailer will get a percentage of the total sale price.

  • Partnerships with other producers enable you to split some of your marketing costs and reach a wider customer base than otherwise possible.