“They want the producers to be prepared when they come to them,” she said.
MarketReady is not an Ohio-exclusive concept, Fox said, noting that about six states have launched programs like Ohio’s.
“It would be nice to have a consistent framework and checklist we can go to so it works from one state to another, across borders, without any differences,” she said. “It’s headed that way.”
Know how buyers operate
The first step for a supplier is to understand how an individual buyer operates, Fox said.
“Based on that, it goes to what product selection and supply do you have, the packaging and pricing, and then what’s the best distribution channel,” she said.
Growers who have the training can go to a buyer and up front list all the appropriate products, practices, safety certifications, liability coverage and other requirements the buyer may have.
“They are prepared when they meet with buyers, and that’s halfway to the sale,” Fox said.
MarketReady also has provided links between grower and Ohio’s farm-to-school programs, Fox said.
“What we plan on doing next year is a full-day curriculum on the school market, where we’ll introduce producers to buyers and tell them how they operate,” Fox said.
If growers want to deal with distributors who in turn sell product to schools, they can receive that kind of training, Fox said.
The beauty of MarketReady is that it is adaptable to any supply channel, Fox said.
“The framework is so solid that the goal is to make it easy for producers to evaluate different marketing channels, to become so familiar with things like packaging, liability and what it means for their marketing,” she said.