There are no quick and easy steps to get your product into grocery stores or onto restaurant menus. But taking the time to explore potential sales channels and understand customer expectations about locally sourced food can be worth it.

“Grocery stores and restaurants are looking for local food but there is still a price component. Restaurants that are independently owned have the flexibility and desire for local food,” says Wendy Banks of Lyndhurst, Ontario’s Wendy’s Country Market and Mobile Market, a local food delivery business. Wendy has found that the local food trend is growing, and while there is more demand for local food, negotiating with grocery stores and restaurants isn’t always easy.

“Grocery retailers, chefs and food buyers are looking for local product and they want to buy local,” says Erica Pate, Direct Farm Marketing Specialist at the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). “Yet when it comes to buying from farmers and small food processors, they say there’s often a gap between what they need, when they need it, and how they do business.”

To address these gaps, OMAFRA is delivering multiple one-day workshops in March. The workshops will bring together farmers and small food processors to learn how to approach available market channels.

Ministry specialists in business management, business development, food regulation and food safety can help business owners and managers learn more about potential sales channels and how to determine which type of channel may be right for their businesses. Each workshop is customized to local interests with subjects ranging from market channel opportunities, food regulations, packaging and labelling to current and changing food trends. Participants will also learn where to go for more information, support and contact information.

Your business might benefit from selling to a local grocery store, restaurant, or a public sector organization like a university or school nutrition program. The key is to invest a few hours to learn about potential market opportunities and how you can meet customer expectations. The Selling Food to Ontario workshops are available on April 25th in Huron and April 27th in Middlesex. Space is limited so register today by:

Huron: www.reachhuron.ca 519-606-1482 cindy.pryce@reachhuron.ca

Middlesex: www.thebusinesshelpcentre.ca 519-641-6100 awalsh@thebusinesshelpcentre.ca