Pork producers interested in learning how to market to foodservice and retail distributors should attend "Bridging the Gap - Selling to Foodservice and Retail," a workshop to be held throughout Iowa on March 7, 8, 9 and 10. Iowa State University Extension and the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture will present the meetings.

"Many producers have been selling directly to customers through farmers markets and one-on-one sales," says Mary Holz-Clause, director of the Value Added Agriculture Program at Iowa State. "As producers expand from direct marketing to foodservice or retail markets, they need information on market demand, distribution channels, as well as requirements and preferences of foodservice and retail customers." This workshop will focus on how producers can bridge those gaps.

"Farmers who are looking for a way to diversify their enterprises will find these workshops a valuable tool to learn more about how to get started in this marketplace," says Rich Pirog, Marketing and Food Systems Program Leader at the  Leopold Center.

Producers will hear from distributors and retailers about how to get their attention individually or collectively to make sales. They will learn what it takes to deliver products, and support sales through the distributor or retail networks.  Those attending will learn "secrets of the trade" to consider when sending a product sample, designing a food label and assessing legal responsibilities. The workshop will discuss how these decisions will impact the producer's business and lifestyle.

A list of distributor contacts will be made available to attendees as well.

Speakers at each workshop include: Connie Hardy, Iowa State Extension Value Added Agriculture Program; Craig Watson, Sysco Corporate Offices; Jason Ellis, Iowa State Hotel, Restaurant, Institutional Management Program; Jeff Jobe, USDA Rural Development; and a representative of Hy-Vee Food Stores. Producers from many walks of life will share their perspectives at the various selected locations.

Pre-registration is preferred by calling the VAAP office at (515) 294-0588 or printing and completing an online registration form available at http://www.agmrc.org/agmrc/calendar/valueaddedseriesbroch.pdf.

The cost of the workshop is $20, prior to March 3 or $25 at the door. It includes lunch, breaks and materials.

The Iowa meeting locations and schedule include:

  • March 7, Fairfield
  • March 8, Atlantic
  • March 9, Sergeant Bluff
  • March 10, Waterloo

For more information, contact Connie Hardy or Madeline Schultz at the Value Added Agriculture Program at (515) 294-0588 or schultz@iastate.edu.