Certified organic production can bring unique health, sustainability
and connection benefits for consumers and therefore potential for
premium and relationship-based channels. At the same time, small
volumes of production and the need for segregation from conventional
products can make transportation and logistics a challenge. Farmers
making the transition to certified organic production need to ask
- “Will becoming certified organic open up new marketing options?”
- “Will my existing channel offer an organic premium?”
- “Do I have the logistic links to get my product to my new customers?”
Assessing your present and potential assets for marketing your
organic product requires the same attention as the natural assets. Your
farm’s established marketing channels and relationships may or may not
be appropriate or available for certified organic products.
Are there wholesale buyers near you? Or farmers’ markets? Or
restaurants that might be interested in organic products? Is your
location suitable for a farm stand?
The associated health, environmental and community benefits, rising
consumer demand and potential premium means that organic production
lends itself to new and innovative marketing methods such as Community
A key consideration when looking at your marketing assets is the
customer base. Are there enough consumers around to have a CSA or do
other direct marketing? The market size, income level and demographics
can all be factors. Your market may not be overtly interested in
organics right now, but what are their interests and demands? Are there
organizations and resources in that you can work with to illustrate the
benefits of certified organic food?
Low population density and numbers, distance from markets and low
volumes of product make marketing organic food in the Maritimes
complicated. Shipping efficiency decreases and costs increase when you
are moving small quantities (less than a load) and refrigerated
transportation options may not be available. How can you distribute
your product? Partnerships and creativity are often required to address
logistical challenges. For example, perhaps a neighbouring farmer sells
at a farmers’ market and is looking for more product for the table.
Maybe there are trucks delivering product to somewhere nearby and
leaving empty – and you could arrange inexpensive transport. Perhaps
you can share a refrigerated van with other area farmers.
Access to processing facilities can be a critical component in your
businesses success and risk management. Are there processing facilities
available that fit your goals and your business plan?
- Does your plan see selling to processors as the primary source of
income or is that just part of your strategy for culls and cosmetically
- Does the processor have the necessary inspection levels (e.g.
federal or provincial certification) for you to market the product?
- Do you have the requirements to sell to that processor (e.g. HACCP)?
- Is the processor presently buying at prices based on commodity
prices or are they interested in a Value Chain relationship with
- How stable and secure is the processor?
Processing facilities can include customers (canneries, health
supplements, dairy cooperatives and bakeries) and services (abattoirs,
shared use commercial kitchens, co-packers and rental equipment like
The facility’s compatibility, ability and interest in processing to
certified organic standards are key. Sometimes processors can deal with
organic product right after all of the equipment is cleaned – this
avoids having to do a special cleaning/purging before each organic run.
Are there unused facilities around that can be converted to meet your
needs? The volume of your production will be a key factor in the
arrangement being mutually beneficial.