Enhance Marketing Of Fruits And Vegetables

Enhance Marketing Of Fruits And Vegetables



Enhance Marketing of​ Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are usually more difficult to​ market than to​ produce .​
There are ready markets available daily or​ weekly for grain and livestock in​ almost all areas of​ the​ United States .​
There are few similar markets for fruits and vegetables .​
Most commodities are produced in​ abundance and long established market channels may be closed to​ small scale or​ new producers .​
a​ producer may need several years to​ establish a​ marketing program .​
The number of​ produce buyers has decreased rapidly in​ recent years .​
One major nationwide supermarket chain has plans to​ consolidate the​ number of​ buying stations for produce to​ eight in​ the​ United States .​
a​ grower has little chance of​ selling to​ a​ local store in​ a​ supermarket chain as​ purchases are made through a​ central warehouse .​
As the​ number of​ buyers has decreased,​ the​ number of​ producers has decreased,​ but their acreage has increased considerably .​
There is​ often a​ delay of​ four to​ six months after shipment in​ receiving payment in​ the​ wholesale market system when selling through a​ broker .​
This often presents a​ cash flow problem for many growers .​
Wholesale buyers have strict and specific product quality,​ grade,​ and packaging requirements .​
These purchasing practices and price squeezes have eliminated market availability to​ many producers.
The future shows more promise for large scale producers or​ small scale producers than for mid sized producers .​
The large scale producer can afford the​ large equipment needed for production,​ and the​ use of​ migrant labor .​
Small scale producers can use smaller equipment,​ often hand operated,​ and family or​ local labor to​ substitute for other equipment .​
Large producers are linked through brokers to​ supply produce over a​ relatively long season or​ year round and it​ is​ difficult for small scale producers to​ supply the​ quantity and quality required over a​ long period .​
Both types of​ producers can be highly successful or​ can go broke as​ production and marketing practices are highly volatile .​
a​ mid sized producer is​ less efficient,​ and often can't economically justify the​ purchase of​ needed equipment or​ substitute labor for equipment.
The small scale producer needs to​ seek local market channels .​
There are opportunities,​ but a​ producer must work to​ find them .​
Direct to​ the​ consumer markets bring highest prices to​ the​ producer,​ but also require more producer time in​ marketing .​
a​ diverse group of​ crops is​ ideal,​ since market demand changes rapidly .​
a​ commodity may sell well and bring high prices for a​ long period,​ but demand and prices may drop drastically over night .​
Supply and demand has a​ tremendous effect on​ marketability and prices of​ produce .​
There are no federal support prices for fruits and vegetables to​ help the​ grower when market demand or​ prices drop .​
Pick-your-own was a​ popular practice a​ few years ago .​
Society has changed and many people do not have time for harvest .​
Most consumers would rather buy produce that is​ harvested,​ and a​ popular developing trend is​ to​ prepare produce for the​ market that is​ as​ near ready to​ eat as​ possible .​
Precut salads and green beans are good examples of​ this practice .​
Shelf life of​ precut produce is​ relatively short,​ and cooling is​ essential.
There are opportunities for small scale producers for on-farm markets,​ organized farm markets,​ locally owned supermarkets,​ and locally owned fruit and vegetable markets .​
When selling to​ any market,​ and especially to​ local supermarkets or​ fruit and vegetable markets,​ good communication between producer and buyer is​ essential .​
a​ producer needs to​ know what,​ when,​ and how much the​ buyer can use .​
The buyer needs to​ know what is​ available and when,​ as​ he has to​ keep the​ shelves stocked .​
Determining a​ fair price can be difficult .​
Daily market prices are available on​ the​ internet .​
County Extension personnel can access this information for producers .​
Retailers generally double the​ price paid to​ account for shrinkage and spoilage.
Crop and variety selection are critical factors in​ marketing .​
Buyers are indifferent to​ the​ origin of​ most crops .​
Locally grown produce is​ much preferred versus other crops,​ primarily due to​ the​ difference in​ quality (flavor) .​
Preferences for locally grown fruit and vegetable crops are apparent for sweet corn,​ tomatoes,​ strawberries,​ and peaches .​
These commodities either are harvested for shipping before top quality is​ attained,​ or​ rapidly lose quality during post harvest handling and shipping.
Different varieties may be used in​ shipping markets as​ compared to​ local markets .​
The sweet corn shipping market uses mostly supersweet type varieties .​
Local markets may use supersweet type varieties,​ but usually prefer SE or​ SU type varieties .​
Certain crops or​ varieties are preferred in​ specific locations,​ and a​ ready local market may exist for a​ specific item that is​ not widely available.
A local Crossville,​ Tennessee market owner recently shared a​ list of​ items that he had difficulty in​ obtaining,​ and that he needed during the​ summer season .​
His list included Half Runner,​ McCaslan,​ Caseknife and Greasy beans; pickling cucumbers of​ 1.5 to​ 2 inch diameter; fresh highly flavored sweet corn (yellow,​ white and bicolor); Red Cayanne pepper; colored bell pepper; Kennebec and Yukon Gold potatoes; watermelons (seedy and seedless),​ strawberries; greenhouse tomatoes (fall,​ winter,​ and spring seasons); and highly flavored local tomatoes in​ the​ summer season .​
He had an​ idea for a​ tomato festival that included tomato varieties not routinely found in​ regular market channels .​
This would include Rutgers,​ Celebrity,​ cherry,​ beefsteak,​ pink,​ yellow,​ yellow and red striped,​ and pear shaped varieties .​
Many of​ these varieties are less productive and have other production problems,​ but have excellent flavor compared to​ the​ standard commercial hybrid varieties .​
There is​ a​ marketing opportunity through this market at​ Crossville,​ and similar situations probably exist in​ most locations in​ the​ United States .​
a​ producer needs to​ search for such market opportunities.
The budgets and profitability of​ crops is​ another factor in​ production .​
Tomatoes have consistently been the​ most profitable crop for Tennessee producers .​
Greenhouse production is​ completely different,​ but is​ a​ rapidly growing enterprise in​ Tennessee .​
Sweet corn can be profitable,​ especially if​ a​ high plant population is​ used to​ provide high yields .​
We are planting twice the​ population (23,​500 plants/A) than was planted several years ago,​ and are evaluating spacings for higher populations .​
Budgets that detail costs of​ production and likely returns are available for most crops,​ or​ a​ grower can develop their own budget.
Tree fruit production does not fit well into small scale agricultural production .​
The time between planting a​ tree and the​ first economic fruit harvest is​ relatively long .​
Large equipment is​ necessary to​ apply pesticides 10 to​ 12 times annually starting at​ the​ first bud break .​
Many pesticides are restricted use,​ and require special handling procedures .​
Trees need to​ be pruned at​ planting and annually in​ late winter.
Grapes offer some opportunity,​ but strawberries and blueberries are small fruit that offer more opportunity for small scale producers .​
Large fruit are required for successful marketing of​ strawberries and blueberries .​
Drip irrigation is​ needed in​ most areas for stand establishment and crop production .​
Overhead sprinkler irrigation is​ often necessary for frost protection .​
Strawberry production systems are changing from matted row to​ annual production .​
The culture of​ each system is​ entirely different.
Harvest of​ fruit and vegetable crops at​ the​ proper maturity is​ essential .​
Many crops have a​ very narrow harvest window,​ and proper maturity is​ needed to​ insure a​ marketable product .​
Crops that producers tend to​ harvest early are sweet corn and bell pepper .​
Sweet corn that is​ not fully mature has less flavor,​ and little usable grain .​
Immature bell pepper pods wilt rapidly and are not attractive .​
Crops that can easily be harvested too late are sweet corn,​ bell pepper,​ and green beans .​
Bell pepper may be harvested with some color showing .​
Most markets want a​ green or​ colored pepper pod,​ and not a​ partially colored pod .​
Sweet corn and green beans become tough rapidly is​ allowed to​ become overmature .​
Tomatoes are best harvested in​ the​ pink stage and harvesting twice a​ week may be needed for proper maturity .​
Pink tomatoes have full flavor .​
Fruit rot,​ cracking,​ and bruising may be less when harvest is​ at​ the​ pink stage .​
Packaging of​ produce is​ a​ critical factor in​ marketing .​
Containers should protect the​ product and be attractive .​
Standard packs vary according to​ the​ type of​ product and the​ market demand,​ but many buyers require the​ use of​ standard size containers .​
Some routine container sizes are half bushels,​ bushels,​ 1 + 1/9 bushel,​ standard sweet corn crates to​ hold 4 ½ dozen ears,​ and pints or​ quarts for berries .​
Many different types of​ materials are used in​ containers .​
Waxed pasteboard cartons are very widely used .​
Snap bean and sweet corn buyers often prefer wire bound wooden boxes .​
Melons are often sold in​ bulk cardboard boxes that hold approximately 250 muskmelon .​
Many markets may require specific counts and product size .​
for the​ container .​
Peppers and tomatoes are specific crops sold by uniform size .​
Peppers are usually boxed as​ extra large (40 to​ 50 -pods/1 + 1/9 bushel) to​ small (70 to​ 80 pods/1 + 1/9 bu box) .​
This relatively uniform size allows the​ retail vendor to​ sell pepper pods by count .​
Prepacking in​ small consumer packages such as​ 3 potatoes or​ tomatoes is​ becoming more of​ a​ demand at​ the​ producer level .​
Local markets may have more or​ less stringent packaging requirements.
Product identification can be a​ useful tool in​ marketing .​
Certain areas or​ growers have developed a​ name for their product .​
Some examples are Vidalia onions,​ Granger County tomatoes,​ Washington apples,​ and Idaho potatoes .​
Product identification can work well for anyone who wants to​ stress and maintain quality .​
It should pay in​ repeat sales and prices received by the​ grower .​
We are considering this approach in​ Tennessee for Tri-X-Shadow seedless watermelon which has exceptional quality .​
An identification label could be attached to​ each melon citing the​ identification (maybe Tennessee Seedless).
Harvested fruits and vegetables are perishable,​ and quality loss starts immediately after harvest .​
Rapid marketing to​ insure freshness is​ a​ desirable feature of​ locally grown produce .​
Produce,​ not sold immediately,​ needs to​ be stored properly to​ maintain appearance,​ flavor,​ and quality .​
Time of​ harvest,​ cooling,​ and storing in​ shaded areas will help retain quality .​
Produce harvested early in​ the​ morning is​ cooler than if​ harvest is​ later in​ the​ day .​
Quality of​ products such as​ green beans,​ sweet corn,​ peppers,​ and peaches benefit from hydrocooling .​
Hydrocooled produce needs to​ be kept in​ a​ cooler to​ maintain the​ proper storage temperature after hydrocooling .​
Products such as​ broccoli and sweet corn benefit from storage with ice in​ the​ container or​ placed on​ ice to​ maintain a​ low temperature and to​ avoid drying of​ the​ produce .​
Produce that has been cooled,​ should be maintained in​ cool.




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