Over the years, value-added entrepreneurs have found it very challenging to get their products on the shelves of local grocery stores. The University of Tennessee Extension Service asked the managers of grocery stores in Tennessee their thoughts about making this happen (see UT Extension publication PB 1719 How To Get Value-Added Products Into Local Grocery Stores).
Keep in mind that customer demand is a powerful tool. Having your customers request your product will get the store manager's attention. Customer recommendations can also be solicited during sampling opportunities or in-store demonstrations. The comments from these events should be summarized and communicated to the grocer.
Small-scale food producers should also document and communicate to the grocer evidence of a strong sales history, including number of units and/or gross sales over a specific time period. This might be accomplished through the use of effective brochures and charts.
Other aspects to consider include:
- developing products that are price-competitive and appealing to the eye and pleasing to the palate
- effective communication to potential consumers and grocers
- promotional activities, free sampling, and effective packaging and labeling.
For help with these issues, check with your local Cooperative Extension office to see if your region has a food processing center.