Enhancing Alternative Niche Market - Retail Opportunities for Agricultural Products

Final Report for ES04-074

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2004: $47,127.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2008
Region: Southern
State: Kentucky
Principal Investigator:
Betty King
University of Kentucky
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Project Information


(Ed. note Due to the untimely death to the project P.I., this project ended early, but not before accomplishing many successful trainings and developing training materials)

Most farmers are learning about retail sales through contact with their consumers in direct marketing. This project provides training and tools for farmers and Extension agents wanting to capture more net income through alternative niche market opportunities such farm product corporate gift baskets, retail and holiday market promotions, tourism and complimentary retail and farm based businesses. Women and Agriculture Networks, KSU Third Thursday participants and Extension agents were targeted for educational programs. The project worked with Small Business Development Centers to develop training. Farmers having success tapping these new profitable market opportunities are highlighted. Training CD's and resource materials were developed.

Education & Outreach Initiatives


Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

Programs were presented at the KY Women in Ag conference, Ky State University's Third Thursday, and Horticulture Society Meeting. An Extension Agent In-Service training will be presented this fall.

Participants are beginning to understand that their ag products must be consumer driven vs production driven to be successful in the retail market.

One producer revamped her product line to be more consumer friendly by redesigning her showroom set up to be like a living room vs a display area; she also designed her website to reflect consumer interest, for example, home furnishings, home decor, crafts, clothing & apparel vs just advertising wool products.

Participants have utilized some merchandizing techniques to enhance their products like bundling like products and creating an attractive package.

Some Farmers' markets are discovering opportunities with downtown beautification projects.

The Ky Women in Ag Network members discovered new networks and opportunities for their budding enterprises. They will have an opportunity this fall to network with the Women Mean Business Conference.


Potential Contributions

This PDP project builds upon previous SARE PDP programs. Many of the earlier clientele base have continued to participate in this PDP as well. Like the farmers, extension educators are learning and honing their work. Learning about the retail market and associated complimentary networks for farm products is relatively new to both groups. For example, during the training, new dialogues occurred with buyers both in terms of products (mostly food products) and as producers of raw product for arts and crafts people. Connections with other organized potential retail customers such as Chamber of Commerce and downtown development corporations for gift basket promotions and beautification promotions are beginning to present opportunities.
Farmers are learning how to do basic market research and how to assess opportunities. Extension agents and farmers are learning about useful networks for direct marketing, product and merchansing resources. This PDP takes the value-added products developed in previous PDPs and helps farmers and extension agents learn to target and package their efforts to tap new alternative markets.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.