Pocket Market Toolkit

Section 1: Why Pocket Markets Section 2: About Pocket Markets Planning a Pocket Market Setting up a Pocket Market Information for farmers Links to resources

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Section 5: Information for farmers -
Selling produce and food products at Pocket Markets

This section of the toolkit is designed to provide information for farmers/growers/processors to sell at Pocket Markets. Selling your products through Pocket Markets might or might not be a good avenue for you to market your products. It really will depend on factors associated with your individual product, your business and your routine.

This section provides the following information:

Information for farmers/growers/processors to sell at Pocket Markets

There are many different types of marketing avenues that that may be available to you. You may be already selling your product or some of it either at the farm gate, through a box program, at a farmers market, to a wholesaler or retailer. Every grower will find the mix that works best for him or her in terms of the type of product sold and the way the product is marketed.

Some things to consider in terms of marketing your product are the:

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Selling to FoodRoots

FoodRoots acts as a centralized food buyer and distributor for Pocket Markets. You may want to consider selling to FoodRoots to market your products. FoodRoots buys from members first, then certified organic farms and then farmers growing naturally. Natural farmers are requested to supply an afidavit indicating they are growing to COABC standards.
Click here to download a FoodRoots membership application form
.

Why Sell to FoodRoots?

FoodRoots is committed to local-FoodRoots is highly committed to buying as much local products as possible. They are always looking to connect with new producers and products.

FoodRoots is committed to you getting a fair price for your products- FoodRoots wants farmers to be fairly compensated for their important role in a sustainable food system

FoodRoots is flexible-there is quite a bit of flexibility with FoodRoots in terms of products you can sell as well as the quantity you can provide. FoodRoots has the ability to sell a small amount (for example if you want to test a product, have a small yield, or want to try to diversify your sales) up to a much larger amount (often this can be guaranteed through a Producer/FoodRoots agreement).

FoodRoots will support you to get it right-if you are just starting out, or trying a new product, or have challenges; FoodRoots can help you with guidance in terms of improving quality, packaging, storage, labeling, pricing, transporting, and adding value to your product. Of real benefit is that they can provide you with information as to what customers are looking for.

FoodRoots may be able to pickup and store your products before sale-in some cases FoodRoots is able to pickup and store products directly from the farm.

FoodRoots has trained and knowledgeable staff that are able to display your products attractively and answer customers questions about your products this may be especially useful if you grow a specialty product that may not be familiar to the public, or for products that have specific preparation or storage needs.

FoodRoots has equipment that will help to display your product attractively and also keep it fresh.

What is involved with selling to FoodRoots?

You will need to contact FoodRoots to discuss your product. Crop planning is done with members and FoodRoots buys members' produce first.

Generally FoodRoots is looking for local products that are organically, or naturally grown. If you are not certified, FoodRoots will accept your product if you are in transition to certification or if you naturally grow/raise your products. This would require a grower statement that outlines your growing and processing methods.

Please contact FoodRoots to discuss the type of product you have as well as what you anticipate in terms of the quantity you have or will have and when. You will also need to discuss the packaging and price. FoodRoots may be able to pickup your product or you may drop it off. You may also need to label your product (what is it, where is it grown and or processed, and when was it packaged) There are different opportunities to be involved with the sales ranging from no involvement to coming and being present at a market and talking to customers. FoodRoots will only accept products that have been approved for sale through the Application for the Sale Of Food At Temporary Food Markets through the Vancouver Island Health Authority

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The products FoodRoots buys

FoodRoots buys a wide range of fruits, vegetables, eggs, and processed goods (including jams, flours, honey, and baked goods). FoodRoots looks for certified organic, transitional and naturally grown goods that come from local sources (Vancouver Island). When we can not get local goods we look first to Provincial sources, Bioregional sources (Washington, Oregon) and then beyond.

Quantity

FoodRoots buys a wide range of quantities. It depends on the product, everything from a dozen, to a few flats, to a pallet load. Part of the mission of FoodRoots is to support new growers and diversified growers; this can result in having small amounts of particular products. Because FoodRoots is set up the way it is, it can take small amounts and sell them at one market, or take larger amounts and sell them at many of the markets.

Quality

Quality of the items is very important for the markets. Products must be fresh and to a high standard. However being totally uniform and blemish free is not as much of a consideration for FoodRoots in comparison to wholesalers and retailers. FoodRoots staff are there to talk directly with customers about “odd looking” products and can help you provide the best quality by providing support with the way you store and package your items.

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Pricing

It is very important that you receive a fair price for your product. Part of the reason that FoodRoots was established was to be able to buy a range of quantities and types of products and then market them together in a way that provides a good price to the farmer and an accessible price to the consumer. How does FoodRoots determine price? FoodRoots pays the farmers the same price that a wholesaler offers to a retailer.

FoodRoots uses a price lists that is issued by Discovery Organics, an Organic Wholesaler based in Vancouver. Their prices are for organic goods that are listed at wholesale prices to retailers. FoodRoots pays the farmers the wholesaler’s rate. This effectively works to knock out the middleman on the farmers end. FoodRoots then adds a margin to the price at the stand to cover staffing and equipment costs. Because FoodRoots takes less of a margin (due in some part to having less overhead than a regular retailer), the price ends up being comparative to a retail outlet.

In terms of pricing for your product, it will depend on the type of product that is being sold-ranging from conventional, transitional to natural to certified organic. FoodRoots uses other pricing methods for non-organic products.

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Packaging

Depending on what you are selling, packaging may or may not be required.

Storage

FoodRoots does not currently have a large storage warehouse so will need to purchase quantities that can be sold through the weekly markets.

Labeling

Not all products need to be labeled. Discuss your particular product with FoodRoots. FoodRoots does prefer if you are able to identify your farm and its location on products as this helps to educate consumers about where their food is coming from.

Information on consumer trends

FoodRoots staff can provide farmers with information on what customers are looking for, as well as their interests in packaging and product portion sizes.

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Agreements

If you want to sell a larger quantity of goods to FoodRoots it may be of interest to you to set up a sale agreement with FoodRoots. This provides a written agreement on the commitment between FoodRoots and the producer as to the type of product, quantity of product and price for the coming season. This provides you and FoodRoots with a guarantee that FoodRoots will buy a specified quantity of your products at a set price.

Building Farmer links with community

FoodRoots is working to build greater awareness and understanding of the local food system. FoodRoots lets people know what is locally produced and in what seasons. Another part of the picture is also building a better understanding about what is involved in growing and processing foods as well as in how to prepare and store foods. FoodRoots endeavors to have staff on hand that can answer questions, but nothing can replace speaking directly to the people who grow and process our foods locally. FoodRoots provides the opportunity for farmers to attend the markets if they wish. This can often be a good way for the farmer to conduct research around their products in terms of what people are looking for, and packaging and labeling they find attractive and easy to use. It also provides farmers and processors with a way to do customer education around their products and how to use them.

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Health and Safety Regulations for Sale of Food at Temporary Markets

The Environmental Health Officer of the Vancouver Island Health Authority department of Health Protection and Environmental Services oversees food safety at temporary markets.

In order to sell food at a temporary market all food vendors must submit an Application for the Sale Of Food At Temporary Food Markets to VIHA. It is also required that any one who wishes to sell food through FoodRoots must submit and receive approval for selling at markets. The process and guidelines are fairly straightforward and outlined below.

Click here to download the VIHA guidelines and application from the VIHA website (www.viha.ca/mho/food).

The following is excerpted from the guidelines:

The guidelines divide food into:

Higher Risk Food – means food in a form or state which is capable of supporting growth of disease causing microorganisms, or the production of toxins.

Lower Risk Food – means food in a form or state that is not capable of supporting the growth of disease-causing organisms or the production of toxins. One or more of the following factors usually apply to these foods:

Vendors of home prepared foods at temporary food markets should only sell foods that are considered to be lower risk. Generally, vendors should not sell foods that are considered higher risk unless approved to do so by the local Environmental Health Officer.

The guidelines cover the Preparation of Lower Risk Food In The Home (Section 1) and Conditions For Sale of Lower Risk Food At Temporary Food Markets (Section 2) as well as provide a list of examples of lower risk foods that are acceptable for home preparation and sale at a temporary food market (Appendix 1). It also contains examples of foods not considered safe (Appendix 2).

The Guidelines also cover Sale Of Shell Eggs And Raw Foods Of Animal Origin At Temporary Food Markets.

To sell Eggs:

To sell Raw Meat, Poultry and Fish Products:

While not mandatory it is recommended that all vendors involved in food preparation complete the FOODSAFE Level 1 program.

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Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA)

For more information, visit the VIHA website www.viha.ca or contact the
Environmental Health Officer
Vancouver Island Health Authority
Health Protection and Environmental Services
201-771 Vernon Avenue
Victoria, B.C.
V8X 5A7
Telephone (250)475-2235
Fax (250)475-5130

The best way to ensure food safety is to become Food Safe certified. For more information see the Food Safe website or contact your Health Authority.

Next - Section 6: Links to resources

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