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UC Research Helps Farmers Choose Profitable Marketing Options

Fresh from the farm -- what works best for the farmer's sustainability?

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Agricultural Marketing

Where's the core of farm produce profits? Comparing marketing channels helps farmers determine how to use each channel, as well as which channel can be most profitable for their specific kinds of produce and time commitment.

Comparing Farmers Markets, CSAs and Wholesale Profits

While farmers' markets have become increasingly popular with consumers, farmers themselves are beginning to ask how profitable selling at a farmers market actually is.

UC Small Farm Program director Shermain Hardesty is finalizing a case study of three farms that each market their products three ways: farmers markets, wholesale and through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, in which subscribers regularly receive boxes of food from the farm.

Net Revenue for Farm Produce

Preliminary results of research found that farmers markets generated the lowest net revenue return for all three growers, while wholesale provided the highest net revenue return. The net rate of return for CSA revenues was in the middle.

Hardesty emphasized that while producers can earn full retail prices through direct marketing, they need to remember that the price premiums are not pure profit.

Hardesty noted the report was not meant to be an indictment of direct marketing. Farmers markets can provide an outlet for produce unmarketable to wholesale channels and can support new farmers developing new businesses.

To help growers determine the cost and return of their different marketing options, Hardesty and student researcher Penny Leff offered use of their formulaic spreadsheets to workshop participants and walked them through tabulation of their costs and returns. "We want to show farmers how they can determine their actual marketing costs themselves," Hardesty said.

For more information, contact Shermain Hardesty at (530) 752-7774,

UC Agriculture and Natural Resources programs aim to help Californians make money

The UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources serves every Californian with research on food production, nutrition, consumer sciences and youth development. Following is a sampling of efforts that have a direct impact on the money in California residents' bank accounts.

RESOURCE: UC Agriculture and Natural Resources

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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