Developing successful marketing strategies for elderberry growers and value added processors: a model for specialty crop development in the U.S. Midwest.

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2010: $105,427.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2013
Region: North Central
State: Missouri
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Michael Gold
MU Center for Agroforestry

Annual Reports

Information Products


  • Fruits: general small fruits


  • Crop Production: agroforestry, intercropping, irrigation, nutrient cycling, organic fertilizers
  • Education and Training: decision support system, demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, mentoring, networking, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, budgets/cost and returns, agricultural finance, market study, value added
  • Natural Resources/Environment: hedgerows, hedges - woody
  • Pest Management: biological control, cultural control, mulching - plastic
  • Soil Management: organic matter

    Proposal abstract:

    This proposal takes an integrated approach to contribute to the creation and development of an elderberry (Sambucus sp.) regional industry as a model for specialty crop development in the U.S. Midwest. The project will increase knowledge about the elderberry market in the region, estimate future trends and growth potential. It will help identify the most appropriate strategies that can be adopted by elderberry growers and value-added processors to deal with the industry’s specific competitive forces. Research will identify consumer preferences for value-added elderberry products and identify potential target markets. Information to support producer decision making for on-farm and associated enterprise opportunities will be facilitated by the development and implementation of an elderberry financial decision support tool. A financial analysis of the price structure from raw berries to value-added products will be performed to identify the best pricing strategy to be employed along the market supply chain to expand elderberry value-added opportunities. A comprehensive outreach program will disseminate results of this project along with the best production practices gathered from production research and experience of other grower/producer leaders in the industry along with entrepreneurial financing advice via a representative of a financial institution. Consumer awareness will increase, supporting long-term market growth. Integrating clusters of elderberry growers and value-added producers into regional collaborative networks will facilitate greater visibility, joint product marketing, and spur agri-tourism growth. An ongoing evaluation plan consisting of process, product and impact evaluation will ensure successful project implementation.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    This project takes an integrated approach to specialty crop development combining marketing and financial research (supported by ongoing long-term production research) with outreach efforts. Outcomes will be enhanced by formation of clusters of elderberry growers and value-added producers and their integration into regional collaborative networks. This project will provide information essential to the growth and development of a regional elderberry industry.
    The main outcomes and outcome indicators of the project include:
    * Increased producer/value-added processor adoption of elderberry as a profitable and sustainable specialty crop
    * 12 new farms will begin elderberry production
    * 8 wineries will add or increase elderberry wine production
    * 10 value added producers will initiate or increase use of elderberry in their product mix
    * In-depth information created to support producer decision making process for on-farm and associated value added enterprise opportunities
    * Increased knowledge about the elderberry market, future trends and growth potential
    * Integrated elderberry Financial Decision Support Model to assist multiple level decision makers from the family farmer to the agricultural lender
    * Increased knowledge about consumer preferences and target markets
    * 100 individuals trained in elderberry marketing via workshops
    * 100 individuals trained in elderberry winemaking principles via workshops
    * 200 individuals trained in elderberry production via field days
    * Expanded elderberry value added production
    * Generate options for higher rates of return for producers by adding value through product processing
    * Increased coordination among industry players
    * Development of a learning network among growers
    * Integration of growers and producers into regional cuisine networks in Missouri and the Midwest for greater visibility, joint marketing, and agri-tourism opportunities
    * Work towards obtaining geographical indication recognition for Midwest elderberries
    * Increased demand for elderberry products (10% increase in regional demand)
    * Increased consumer awareness about elderberry (5,000 to 7,500 individuals directly exposed to elderberry value-added products via the Missouri Chestnut Roast and all the events organized at the University of Missouri Research Centers, Eridu Farms, and Wyldewood Cellars)
    * Increase consumption of elderberry products with associated nutrition and health benefits

    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.