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Best ways to sell your farm produce

By: Grant King - IndustrySearch writer
20 July, 2015

Right, so you've got a wonderful piece of fertile land, a sympathetic climate, a great team of workers, and all the knowledge and skills to generate first class produce. That's a recipe for farming success, right? Wrong.

That's a great recipe for creating the right product, but that product will be a big fat lemon if you don't have a clearly defined plan for selling it. That plan needs to be devised before you grow your produce, not after, and you also need to make sure you're growing to a market.

A market flooded with potatoes doesn't need more potatoes. So first you need to determine the level of demand. Then you need to work out how you're going to sell it. Here are some tips for doing just that.

Go for bulk

Selling your produce in bulk to one or two major buyers is generally the fastest and easiest way to go if you can negotiate an acceptable wholesale rate with a supermarket or restaurant. That's the key.

While the logistics of bulk selling are minimal, so are the prices large companies are prepared to pay. So weigh it up before they wear you down with miniscule margins. Does the simplicity of such a deal offset the reduced profit?

And remember, if you're dealing with large companies crunching out these deals on a daily basis, you'll likely find yourself with a set offer and equally set payment terms, non-negotiable. The bigger your farm's output, the better your chances of gaining a bit of bargaining power.

Go straight to the street

If you have the time and energy to go direct to the public, and have a readily accessible market, retail selling offers the best returns. It also offers the most fickle selling environment as your sales can be affected by something as unpredictable as a storm.

If such inconsistencies don't bother you, your mode of selling can take many forms. Farmers Markets come with a ready traffic flow, but if your potatoes don't compete with their potatoes, you can call the whole thing off.

Roadside stalls allow you to be more creative with your pricing. Or you can open your farm as a 'pick your own' market thereby cutting labour costs and making the purchase experience more of an event.

Set up a stall in cyberspace

Anything can be sold online these days and farm produce is no exception. Farmhouse Direct, an initiative of Australia Post, is a national website for home-grown and handmade goods. It's an online marketplace where you can set up your own virtual stall and sell direct to the public.

This cyber marketplace offers farmers some real benefits and a steady stream of buyers wandering the stalls (virtually speaking) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You set your own prices and can run your own promotions, though Farmhouse Direct has ongoing campaigns to drive traffic.

The site charges a flat commission on sales to cover marketing and e-commerce. So do your maths. If the costs, as well as the logistics of postage and handling are workable, an online market offers similar opportunities to a real one without the constant stall setup and dismantling. Oh, and the weather in cyberspace is pretty reliable too.  

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