Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, many maple producers were forced to cancel open house events during the 2020 sugaring season for the safety of the producers and their customers. This caused a major loss in sales for many maple producers throughout the maple producing region. While COVID-19 is likely to still be a concern for the 2021 sugaring season, we now have a better understanding of the virus and protective measures to keep everyone safe while staying open for business. Those measures and best practices are detailed in this guidance.
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Maple farmers experienced a difficult transition when the COVID-19 outbreak in North America resulted in the shutting down of sugarhouses to the public, particularly during some of the most crucial weekends for in-person maple sales. Sugarmakers had to quickly pivot in order to make up for lost sales in the sugarhouse as well as from wholesale restaurant and school accounts. This shift brought about some creative thinking and innovative solutions to reach customers and promote maple products. Some successful marketing, sales and agritourism strategies have not only helped producers recover lost sales, but have permanently enhanced their future sales approach and marketing plans.
Explore the exciting research into Maple (syrup, sugar, sap/water, extracts), a sustainable North American agricultural crop, which has a unique chemical composition which imparts positive biological effects to its products.
Explains considerations and strategies for setting prices when selling maple products.
Agritourism plays two important roles. First, it educates the public about farming and their local food system. Second, it supports farmers by increasing sales opportunities and building a loyal customer base. The term encompasses an array of on-farm attractions, events, or services. Events can take a simple Ð and limited Ð form such participating in a stateÕs maple weekend. Or it can be as complex as opening a restaurant. Agritourism includes anything from school field trips, to B&Bs, to pick-your-own, and wine tastings. Sometimes fun, sometimes educational, sometimes both, the common threads are connection and experience.
A common marketing mistake is starting with the tools: social media, labels, or logos. Instead, marketing starts with: the business story, business goals, and identifying customers.
The tried-and-true value-added maple products include candy and cream, and many producers have taken advantage of these products already. Some have gone further, adding maple products like ice cream, maple cotton candy, and maple-coated popcorn or nuts. More adventurous sugarmakers have begun making additional items, like salad dressings, hot sauces, and dog biscuits.
No two sugarmakers follow the exact same path. For some, their business grows slowly, one weekend farmers market at a time, and they prefer to stay small. Others build their backyard operations into wholesale businesses that keep them busy year-round. Some enjoy selling directly to their customers. And others would rather focus on production, and let established retailers take care of the rest. These snapshots of four sugaring enterprises illustrate just a few of those successful models.
Where is the maple industry headed? Where are bulk prices headed? Is the global market demand for syrup keeping pace with the expansion in production? This panel discussion includes Bruce Bascom (Bascom Maple Farms), John Kingson (Butternut Mountain Farm), David Hall (Quebec Federation of Maple Producers) and Mark Cannella (UVM Extension Farm Business Specialist). The session is moderated by Mark Isselhardt (UVM Extension Maple Specialist)
The Internet has made it possible for maple farms to sell direct to customers everywhere. However, the online market is crowded and itÕs not enough just to put up an e-commerce website. Peter Cooper-Ellis of Hidden Springs Maple covers strategies and pitfalls for using the Internet to market maple products. This presentation also discusses the impact that Amazon is having on the on-line market and strategies for selling on Amazon.