Marketing Organic Crops
Markets for organic crops and livestock continue to grow and are constantly changing. Organic farmers in New York currently market their crops in every type of venue, including farmers’ markets, wholesale distributors, specialty shops, farm stands, Community Supported Agriculture farms, food processors and brokers, retailers and to international markets. Some farmers sell directly to restaurants, some sell only at their farm stand. Some market their crops multiple ways.
Marketing is a key component of every farm’s operation. A few organic marketing resources are listed below. Experienced farmers generally advise growers to have good marketing plans for all perishable farm products before planting the crops. Markets are very dependent on location; a producer in a rural location with no nearby cities will need a different marketing plan than a producer adjacent to a significant population center, etc.
Resources for Marketing Organic Products
Organic Milk Buyers
The major processors of organic milk in New York State are Horizon, Organic Valley, Maple Hill Creamery and Upstate Niagara, although smaller buyers are also seeking farmers. Dairy farmers may also sell their milk to small yogurt and cheese makers or make yogurt and cheeses themselves. All organic milk buyers recommend that farmers discuss a purchase agreement in advance of transition, since location and current market considerations may impact buyer timing. Additional information can be obtained by speaking with representatives of NOFA-NY, an organization that has transition resources and may know of recent market changes.
The Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Association (NODPA) provides transition information, support, current pricing and information about processors at their web.
Champlain Valley Milling Corporation located in Westport, NY purchases organic grains and sells organic flours
Lakeview Organic Grain in Penn Yan, NY purchases significant amounts of feed grains. They have been in business since the early 2000's.
Traditional direct markets for organic products are farmers’ markets and farm stands. Other direct marketing opportunities include Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) and direct sales to restaurants. There is a great deal of information assembled for those interested in considering or rethinking their direct marketing venues that can be found on the web. We refer you here to major New York State-based resources and organizations.
Potential Wholesale and National Buyers
Demand for organic foods continues to outstrip national and statewide production. While buyers are constantly changing, Wegman’s has publically announced a search for more organic farm produce, Amy’s Kitchen, which announced plans to build a manufacturing plant in Orange County, is looking for farmers.
Potential national buyers may be located on the list of national organic companies who are members of the Organic Trade Association.
Overseas Markets and Certification Requirements
To market overseas, ask your potential market about what accreditations are necessary to ship overseas, and ask your perspective certification agency if they have the necessary accreditations. Depending on where you intend to sell your product, you may need an organization that holds accreditations beyond USDA, such as ISO 65 accreditation. In addition, some countries have slightly different organic standards that you may have to follow for export sales to certain countries.
The USDA NOP has entered into several agreements with other countries, so that USDA NOP organic certification is equivalent to that in the European Union, Canada and Japan. NOP provides detailed information about organic import, export and trade information.
Wholesale Processing Market
Food processing facilities in and near New York purchases organic fruits and vegetables. Some new facilities have been built in recent years and new facilities are in the works. The rise and fall of such businesses is associated with many factors, such as price and availability of imports, detailed requirements of the processor. Usually, processing facilities contract in advance for specified numbers of acres or tons of fruits or vegetables.
In order for livestock to be sold as certified organic, not only must the producer’s pastures and soils, feed and animals must not be certified organic, but so must the processing facilities, including slaughter and storage facilities. Producers can contact their certifier for a current list of facilities near them.
New York State Organic Farming Links