Cooperating for Success: Building a Value-added Marketing Cooperative for Advantage in the Marketplace
The agricultural economy in the region served by Appalachian Spring Cooperative has traditionally been dependent on the production of tobacco on tillable acreage, grazing beef cattle on marginal lands and subsistence farming on small plots to produce foods for home use and local market sales. However, significant cuts in tobacco allotments, reductions in the market price for cattle and universal availability of cheap shipped-in produce at mass-merchandising retailers have been a major blow to the primary and supplemental income these on-farm activities provide to low-income farm families.
Appalachian Spring Cooperative was formed to offer growers and food business entrepreneurs opportunities to create successful and sustainable value-added farm-based enterprises utilizing a shared use community food processing facility. In this producer grant project they will market nutritious, high-quality locally-produced foods made from locally grown crops to retailers and consumers. They will attempt to market outside the region and they will promote--to retailers, consumers and growers--the importance of value-added processing of locally grown crops.
In this project they will also measure the market value of members’ value-added food products compared to the market value of their raw agricultural inputs. They will chronicle the success (or lack thereof) of marketing initiatives in distinct market segments (wholesale, trade show sales, mass merchandising outlets, wholesale to specialty foods retailers, direct-to-consumer sales via direct mail efforts farmers markets, cultural events and cooperative web site).