Week 18: September 28, 2017

Basil at We Grow

The Mighty Dollar

In meeting with retailers the past few weeks in hopes to reach new markets, we have had an eye-opener in the portion of the dollar a farmer actually receives when we buy something. We have also been wrapping our heads around the concept of “just” prices after a store 70 miles away offered us exactly double what a local store can pay.

The manager at the distant store explained to us, as she was figuring what she could offer for a top dollar amount, her co-op believes in paying farmers a just price so they can have a living wage. Her consumers are paying more than the larger grocery stores, because she markets and sells her farmers’ story. She visits a different farm every week, then posts stories and photos both in the store and on social media. The marketing plan is obvious as you walk through the aisles and see farmers faces attached to products on the shelves. Her customers see their money keeping small farms in business, providing jobs and maintaining a rural economy.

This begs the question, can our local store offer a better rate to their local farmers? If we demand a better price for the farmer, the cost of the product will go up in order for the store to cover their overhead. We can easily assume that less people will purchase the items. It’s a lose-lose situation for both the store and the farmer. Does connecting the farmer to consumer create a strong enough connection to warrant a higher price?

Should we leave it up to the consumer to decide if their local economy is worth spending more? Is it fair to ask the store to make less profit? Is a living wage for farmers a priority? According to the distant store manager, “just” prices is not just a catchy slogan. Her customers are willing to pay more. But in her situation the population density is much higher as is the income level, allowing her to develop this niche market.

Cue the importance of direct to consumer sales. If you can get a product straight from the farmer, they get the total profit. Cut out the middle man and you are giving your local economy a direct boost. Of course we know you understand this concept, you are CSA members afterall.

Reaching a retail milestone,

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