A newly-married couple from Los Angeles quit their jobs to work on farms and wineries across Europe. Read it from the beginning...

Branding is for Chumps

Posted: July 15th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Halbe weighing rhubarb for the box scheme customers in Wales.

On our travels, we’ve heard a few common themes from small producers of organic goods (for ease of writing we’ll call them “farmers”). They don’t like branding and with it, marketing. When Devon and I first heard this at a farm in Wales, we were awe struck. Why wouldn’t they brand their product? If they’re trying to sell what they make, wouldn’t they want as many people to know about them as possible? The answer is a simple, “no.”

At the farm we worked on in Wales, the two owners flat out said they, “didn’t believe in branding.” This coming from two people who live off the income from their farm. They have a box scheme (i.e. they sell boxes of produce to individuals who would pick them up) and went to two farmers markets, weekly. But, they didn’t market their produce beyond that and were even hesitant to use brown paper bags. They feared people might start to associate them with paper bags as a type of branding. This is an extreme example, but many of the farmers we’ve worked with didn’t like branding/marketing either.

We’ve come to a few conclusions as to why this might be. They’re based on direct feedback from the farmers themselves and educated observations we’ve made on our travels. The first is concerned with marketing. They don’t want to work with large grocery stores. Some of the farms we worked with had in fact turned down the opportunity to work with grocery chains (e.g. the farm in Wales). The goat cheese farm we worked at in Cork even severed their partnership with a local chain.

As told by the farmer, the main reason was that they didn’t really make much money working with them. They even lost money.  They were selling goats milk – true blue, unpasteurized goats milk. When he first partnered with the store he was thrilled. He’d be able to sell dozens more litres than when he was at the farmers market. Or so he thought. What ended up happening was that he’d give them milk to sell and he’d get money only if the milk sold. In five days time, when the milk expired (it’s very fresh) they’d tell him to pick up what hadn’t sold (which wasn’t much), bring more and they’d even have to decrease the price. So, he’d sold very little milkand it was going to waste. That’s milk he could have used to make cheese which sells for 7 euros/jar.

Fresh goat cheese made in Cork - best goat cheese we ever had.

The other reason we thought might play into this is that they prefer to be smaller operations. This way they can control their quality and their work load. They liked being small operations with a few select customers and were perfectly content with the money they made. They loved doing what they did and were pleased just to be making any money from it at all. Expanding was a headache they didn’t want.

What I begin to wonder is what this means for customers who want to eat organic, fresh produce/dairy products but aren’t near a small operation. I understand not wanting to be bigger, but do I need to live in a small town to get fresh eggs, cheese, milk and produce? Not necessarily. There are products at Ralphs that I like, but my point is that it’s not just that the markets don’t work with the farmers, it’s also that the farmers don’t really want to work with the markets.

The issue is complicated and I’m not trying to over-simplify. What I am realizing on this trip  is that there are many, many sides to this equation. This one is new to us.

Previous: Next:

3 Comments on “Branding is for Chumps”

  1. 1 Jeanne said at 11:30 am on July 15th, 2010:

    Certainly understand wanting to keep it small and manageable. It’s one of the perks of having your own small business. You get to say when it’s big enough. Of course if you moved to Vashon, you’d always have farm fresh eggs.

  2. 2 DonnaAnn Ward said at 9:14 am on July 17th, 2010:

    Ohhhh….. strawberry rhubarb pie.

    My friends, Dru and Homer are small organicing it up in Pennsylvania.They have a unique penning system by which they rotate cows, chickens then ducks over the pens, in that order. No fertilizer is needed, no mowing involved. The result is delicious, organic, grass fed everything (plus tons of natural fertilizer for the fruits and veggies they’re growing)

    They system is so efficient and simple to set up, they’ve gone to Eastern Europe as well as some major univerisities to demonstrate it.

    Sunnyside Farms… not a lot of pictures on the site but then you all are seeing plenty of farms on your own, I am sure!

    Hoorah for farming!


  3. 3 Mary Lou and Charlie said at 7:41 pm on July 30th, 2010:

    Hey guys, see on your itinerary that the next few days were “unscheduled”….so where are you? Wherever it is, we hope its great! We love you and miss you.

Leave a Reply

ссылка здесь справочник телефонов по комсомольску-на-амуре spy sms blackberry messages catch a wife having affair решебники онлайн shkola ua программа чтобы прочитать чужие смски cell what is cell phone spy gadgets text messages spy gps phone tracker spy camera app for android spy text reader spy app тут адрес и имя по номеру телефона мобильного android spy on you тут химия 10 класс шиманович решебник cell phone spy x tunnel vision на сайте Жираф большой ему видней Натруальный sitemap