In the depth of winter while the fields like dormant and farmers order seeds for next year’s crop, Cheryl is hard at work developing plans for Farm to Freezer as a self-supporting social enterprise. Can Farm to Freezer earn revenue through selling some of its product to support its operations? How will Farm to Freezer scale up so that it can preserve more surplus fresh produce and serve more people in need in our community.
Business planning starts with market research. Last November we tested the sale of our tomato sauce and frozen blanched and roasted vegetables. Along with handing out tastes of our organic tomato sauce, we asked people what they thought of these products. We collected 100 completed surveys from our two test markets: the Fresh Farm Market in Silver Spring and Mixed Greens Market in Poolesville who generously gave us space to demonstrate our products.
The surveys were designed to collect consumer opinions and see how our product would sell. We asked about overall taste, appearance, and packaging along with questions on pricing and types of markets they would expect to buy Farm to Freezer products in. When asked, “How does this sauce compare to the tomato sauce that you currently buy”, 77% of respondents liked this sauce much better, compared to 16% who said it was about the same and 8% who preferred their current sauce. One respondent commented,
“This sauce is a win-win for all – the farmer and the community.”
We also asked about the qualities of the sauce and its social mission – supporting farmers, feeding the hungry, and reducing food waste. Consumers willing to purchase a 40-oz. bag of frozen tomato sauce – chock full of other vegetables and herbs – for $8-10 would purchase it because (in order of preference) it was organic, followed by taste, healthy ingredients, locally-produced, and to support Farm to Freezer’s social mission. Convenience, appearance, and packaging weighed less important in their buying decision.
This type of feedback is invaluable when determining the best ways to sell our products, and will help shape the future of Farm to Freezer. There is already interest from Washington’s Green Grocer to sell our products next year on their online grocery. We’ll be sure to provide more updates on our evolving business plans and where you can purchase Farm to Freezer products in our next season!