To all who participated in our Producers and Wholesale/Institutions survey,
A sincere thank you for completing our wholesale and institutional supply survey or taking the time to ensure this survey opportunity made it to a wide variety of Vermont producers. Your time and dedication is helping our Agency better understand Vermont producers’ interests and needs in serving institutional and wholesale markets. We are grateful for the amount of feedback we received- our goal was to collect 100 responses, and we surpassed it, with an impressive 125 responses!
Once we have analyzed the survey results, our goal is to identify additional opportunities for producers to access wholesale and institutional markets. The themes that have become clearer to us in the preliminary review of the results are in the areas of: infrastructure, marketing & relationships, and education & technical assistance.
Some interesting highlights that we’ve quantified from the survey results include:
· 57% of respondents want to expand direct sales to institutions, restaurants, and retailers in the next two years.
· 66% find direct solicitation as the most effective communication strategy for connecting with wholesale or institutional buyers.
· According to respondents, the greatest obstacle to serving institutional or wholesale markets is maintaining profitability in markets with lower margins/prices.
· 55% of respondents have an absence of on-farm commercial kitchen space for processing value-added products and 71% don’t own a refrigerated truck for product transportation.
· As a result of selling to institutional and wholesale markets, at least 39% of respondents made infrastructure improvements, such as purchasing equipment or constructing new on-farm facilities.
· 35% of respondents have developed and implemented a formal food safety plan, while 60% remain without Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification.
The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets intends to use these key findings to inform the collective farm to institution work as well as our local product procurement efforts in state government. Our next steps include sharing producer contacts, from those of you who expressed interest, with regional and statewide technical assistance organizations. Over the winter months, we will develop a strategy to disseminate the survey results to the broader wholesale and institutional audience.
Once again, thank you for your support of the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets’s objective of creating opportunities for Vermont producers to access wholesale and institutional markets. We’ll keep you informed of our continued efforts.
Local Foods Administrator
Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets
116 State St.Montpelier, Vermont 05620-2901