Increasing Value-Added Product Sales through Improved Labeling - Packaging

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2015: $5,371.00
Projected End Date: 02/15/2017
Grant Recipient: Inn Serendipity Farm
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Project Coordinator:
Lisa Kivirist
Inn Serendipity Farm and B&B

Annual Reports

Information Products


  • Fruits: apples, apricots, berries (other), berries (blueberries), berries (brambles), cherries, berries (cranberries), figs, citrus, grapes, olives, peaches, pears, pineapples, plums, quinces, berries (strawberries)
  • Vegetables: asparagus, beets, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, cucurbits, garlic, onions, peppers, tomatoes
  • Additional Plants: herbs


  • Education and Training: focus group, on-farm/ranch research, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, value added
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities

    Proposal summary:

    This project creates a toolkit of free or low-cost ideas for farmers to improve packaging, labeling and overall display marketing to increase sales of value-added products, with an emphasis on high-acid, canned items such as jams, pickles and salsas canned in home kitchens processing under cottage food law.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Problem: On a positive note, 42 states now have forms of cottage food legislation in place, with most enacted post-recession in 2008 as a means to help support fledgling food entrepreneurs start-up. However, while cottage food laws provide the legal authority to produce value-added items in one’s home kitchen, resulting in strong opportunity for farmers to diversify income and better manage risk, there are barriers to packaging, labeling and marketing because the business is intentionally small. As most farmers like myself making high-acid, canned items, we are producing a total inventory of most likely a couple hundred jars, versus the thousands needed for  economies of production scale to kick in. This results either in a higher production cost and, as in my case, limited and boring packaging and labeling options that don’t draw the traffic interest and sales volume as more professionally produced items. Marketing value-added, canned products also have the opportunity to be purchased as gifts and used in holiday food gift baskets. As a food gift, labeling and packaging are even more important. As I, like most growers, don’t have a graphic design background or expensive computers and printers, I am limited in what I can readily produce at home.

    Solution: This project will research and compile a variety of low or no-cost options that farmers like myself can readily access and use to increase the overall visual marketing appeal of their value-added canned items, with a particular focus on farms processing under cottage food laws. These different options will be tested in farmer and consumer focus groups via during our on-farm events, MOSES events and with our B&B guests. While my research will focus on my pickles and sauerkraut value-added items, the results of this research can be used in a variety of products and contexts such as baked goods. Topics to be researched and tested include:

    • Label design (free/low cost template options, font choice, color, etc.)**

    • Label production (format recommendations, adhesive options, labelers)**

    • Jar sourcing & recycling (ways to increase customers return and reuse of glass canning jars)

    • Jar Packaging (accessories to increase marketing appeal such as fabric toppers and ribbon)**

    • Consumer education (ways to increase sales through educating customers through recipes, serving tips, etc.) • Co-packaging multiple products for gift baskets

    • Market display ideas

    • Marketing ideas specific to holiday sales

    • Ways that value-added sales can boost other farm product sales (i.e., including contact info, coupon, etc.)

    • Creating efficient methods of production (i.e. labeling/packaging most efficiently)

    • Methods to transport to market

    ** Note: Priority will be placed on materials and sources that use post-consumer content and other forms of sustainable materials and recycled items.

    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.