Marketing
June 8, 2017, Brighton, Ont. - Local Food Week is the annual kick-off to the outdoor farmers' market season, when Ontario growers and their just-picked produce return to communities large and small throughout the province.

The growing season is officially underway!

Although the wet spring we've had this year has delayed crops in some areas, others are right on schedule. According to Catherine Clark, the new Executive Director of Farmers' Markets Ontario, "At the majority of markets, you'll find an abundance of spring crops like fresh asparagus and rhubarb, and some farmers have begun harvesting their strawberries."

Other early-season crops to look for at your local farmers' market are the ones that usher in the season for salads: lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions, spinach, peppers, beets, cabbage, new potatoes, parsnips and (possibly) baby carrots. But farmers' markets aren't just about fresh local produce. They're also about homemade jams and jellies, delectable baked goods, fragrant botanicals, honey, maple syrup, gourmet cheese, farm-fresh eggs, locally raised meats and even VQA wines.

Farmers' markets are more than just places to buy fresh local foods.

Food isn't the only reason farmers' markets are so popular in Ontario. Catherine Clark points out that "They bring the city and the country together and get everyone talking about food. They also provide wonderful opportunities for parents to teach their children where the food they eat comes from."

And there's more. Clark adds: "They're also fun places to be. They're friendly, colourful places where friends and neighbours arrange to meet and spend time together. They foster a sense of community wherever they spring up." They're also good for the environment, since locally grown food produces a much smaller carbon footprint than food that is transported long distances to reach our plates.

Farmers' markets are immensely important to the estimated 37,000 families in Ontario that are engaged in local agriculture, providing them with needed income and summer jobs for their children. Many farmers are entitled to identify themselves as MyPick® Verified Local Farmers®. It means that they have been visited and verified by Farmers' Markets Ontario (FMO) as local growers who sell only what they produce on their own local farms. The MyPick® designation sets them apart from vendors masquerading as local growers but who are in fact re-sellers of produce from a variety of sources, often imported and/or purchased at food terminals.

Find out more

You can look up the location and operating hours of all 182 member markets of Farmers' Markets Ontario, as well as find information on MyPick® Verified Local Farmers® on the FMO website at farmersmarketsontario.com.
April 28, 2017, St. Thomas, Ont – Area farmers will have a chance to showcase their new products and get a business case for them, thanks to a new pilot project Fanshawe College is bringing to the community.

The initiative, called the Fanshawe Farm Market project, will match Fanshawe faculty and students in the Agri-Business Management program, offered at the Simcoe/Norfolk campus, with local farmers interested in launching new products to the market, so they can be tested during this year’s farmers’ market season. READ MORE
Pete Luckett is a British-Canadian entrepreneur, media personality plus a dynamic speaker. A native of Nottingham, England, Luckett immigrated to Canada in 1979, settling eventually in Nova Scotia.
If you ask a group of random Canadians about whether they trust farmers and Canada’s food system on the whole, you’ll likely hear a variety of responses.
March 24, 2017, Kentville, NS – Loblaws recently recognized Pazazz apple with its top honour – selection as a President’s Choice product.

President’s Choice status is only bestowed on produce and other food items that demonstrate truly exceptional quality, taste and great value to customers.

Grown locally in Canada by Van Meekeren Farms, Pazazz is a premium winter apple variety and has been in development in conjunction with Honeybear Brands for more than nine years. A descendent of the crowd-pleasing Honeycrisp, Pazazz has a unique blend of sweet and tart flavours and explosive crunch that has attracted a loyal following of customers in just a few short years on the market.

“Each year there are literally hundreds of candidates for President’s Choice status,” says Mark Boudreau, director of corporate affairs for Loblaws Atlantic. “We consider each very carefully for perfect taste, appearance, premium quality and a uniqueness they offer to our Loblaws customers. Pazazz scored highly across the board and was an easy selection for us to make.”

Available now, Pazazz will be sold in 2lb special President’s Choice branded bags in select Loblaws stores while supplies last.

“This is a huge honour and we’re very excited,” says Michael Van Meekeren, co-owner of Van Meekeren Farms. “Pazazz is a young variety compared to many available today and because it’s a winter variety that peaks in flavour in the winter months, it gives apple lovers something that is very difficult to get at this time of year – a premium apple variety with that just-picked freshness.”
 
Pazazz is harvested in late October but reaches the perfect balance of sweet and tart flavours during the winter months, arriving on Loblaws and other retailer shelves in early January each year. This season the variety has shattered all retail goals and expectations.

For more information about Pazazz or Honeybear Brands visit PazazzApple.com or honeybearbrands.com.
Incredible. Unbelievable. Disneyland.
March 21, 2017, Edmonton, Alta – Getting into On-Farm Sales takes place April 4, 2017, at the Agri-Food Business Centre, 6547 Sparrow Drive, Leduc.

“This workshop examines selling your food products direct to consumers from your farm,” says Delores Serafin with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. “It’s a chance to learn about the different options available to you from u-picks to farm stands and seasonal sales centres. Discover the behind-the-scenes considerations that help to make the consumer experience memorable and your business successful, such as parking and traffic flow, signage, scales, cash handling systems, washrooms, and more.”

Jim Hill with Hidden Valley Garden near Sylvan Lake will talk about the way they implemented a simple sales solution into their u-pick operation, and Vicky Horn with Tangle Ridge Ranch near Thorsby will share how customers access their lamb both on-farm and through off-farm deliveries.

The workshop will also help participants to understand which regulations apply to their business, who to contact and why they matter.

Getting into Farm Sales runs from 9:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. The $25 fee includes GST and covers lunch and refreshments. To register, call 1-800-387-6030 by March 27.
March 1, 2017, Ottawa, Ont – P.E.I. potatoes fetched good prices in 2016, continuing a trend that stretches back to 2004.

The strong performance for Island spuds was shown in the farm product prices indexed released by Statistics Canada Feb. 27. READ MORE
February 20, 2017, Vancouver, BC – In recognition of the importance of the Japanese market, the British Columbia Blueberry Council will again be exhibiting at the country's premier food and beverage trade show, Foodex.

Held from March 7 to 10 in Tokyo, the event attracts influential buyers from across Japan and other Asian markets.

"Japan has long been a very important export market for BC blueberries," said Debbie Etsell, executive director of the BC Blueberry Council. "It's a very discerning market, and the high quality of our fruit is well respected in Japan, both fresh berries in the summer, and frozen and processed formats throughout the year."

In 2016, British Columbia's 800 blueberry growers produced 77 million kilograms of blueberries.

Approximately half of each season's yield is exported to markets outside of Canada, making blueberries the country's most exported fruit. To celebrate this fact, and share Canada's 150th anniversary celebrations at Foodex, representatives of the BCBC will be serving up samples of Blueberry Ginger Pancakes with Maple Syrup – a quintessentially Canadian treat.

As in past years, the council will be exhibiting at Foodex as part of the AgriFood Canada pavilion in the International Zone. The show attracts 77,000 buyers from food service, distribution, and trading companies, with around 3,320 companies exhibiting at the four-day event. Along with offering an excellent opportunity to connect with buyers from the Japan, the show also attracts trade buyers from other Asian markets.

"This is the seventh year that the BC Blueberry Council has attended Foodex, and it's a very important opportunity for us to reconnect with some of the contacts we have made over the years," says Etsell. "We're looking forward to seeing some of the familiar faces from past shows, as well as building some new relationships and connecting them with suppliers that can fulfill their requests, whether they're looking for blueberries in fresh, frozen, dried, powdered, juice or puréed formats."

The BC Blueberry Council works closely with government trade offices at both a provincial and federal level, making the most of opportunities to take part in trade missions, delegations and shows such as Foodex. Other international missions planned for 2017 include Gulfood in Dubai, and Seoul Food & Hotel in Korea.
The long, hot summer days of 2016 helped to create one of the best tomato crops Ontario has seen for a long time. Many farmers were faced with a bumper crop. So what can a farmer do with all those extra tomatoes?
February 6, 2017 – After several years of challenging times, the Canadian processing potato industry is feeling a lift, in part due to a lower loonie.

It’s stimulated exports of French fries and other processed products as well as fresh potatoes to the United States and other markets, and for the first time in years some processing plants in Canada are expanding their production lines. READ MORE
A representative of Enza Fruit Products, the U.S. subsidiary of New Zealand-based Enza/T&G Global, recently shared with B.C. fruit growers his views on club varieties and how they are influencing the market.
January 24, 2017, Niagara Falls, Ont – Enjoy a lively day chock-full of ideas and insights on mentoring, merchandising and marketing from one of Canada’s leading retail & farm market experts.

The Ontario Farm Fresh Marketing Association (OFFMA) is hosting a workshop with farm marketer Pete Luckett Feb. 21 at the Marriott Gateway to the Falls, Niagara Falls, Ont. The “farminar” will run from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Participants will leave armed and dangerous with loads of insights to try out in their operation. Customers won’t know what hit them! (But they’ll be loving it!) The day will conclude with an interactive “up close and personal” chat with Pete, where particpamnts can ask questions or discuss those managing, merchandising or marketing perils that keep them up at night.

Topics to be covered in the workshop:
  • Building a Team: excellence is customer service can only begin with a satisfied and motivated team
  • Merchandising: 70 per cent of all purchases are made on impulse and powerful merchandising is the best method to capitalize on this opportunity.
  • Marketing: Whether your operation is roadside, retail, café or a combination of it all, you’ve got to create excitement and energy – every day.
OFFMA will also be holding its annual Ontario Farm Fresh Excellence Awards Banquet on Feb. 21 starting at 6 p.m. at the Marriott Gateway to the Falls. Enjoy a relaxing evening and meal with farm friends, take part in the silent auction, and celebrate the successes of the direct farm marketing industry.

For more information or to order tickets for the workshop and/or banquet, call 905-841-9278.
Early last year, my nephew was thrilled to receive a Pebble watch for his birthday. He had decided upon it after much research and was looking forward to the new apps yet to be developed. Half a year later, Fitbit bought the Pebble brand. The treasured watch became useless as the company announced it would no longer support Pebble.
‘Twas the week before Christmas and all through the office, not a creature was stirring – except for whoever was pumping out those press releases from the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Processors’ Association (OFVPA), headquartered in Mitchell, Ont.
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