Virginia Market Maker, Part III: Virginia Market Maker Offers Added Value to Registered Farms and Agribusinesses!

Dr. Kimberly L. Morgan (klmorgan@vt.edu), Assistant Professor, Agricultural and Applied Economics, Virginia Tech

MarketMaker, a web-based portal that serves as a virtual marketplace for producers, distributors, and sellers, and buyers of agricultural products, seeks to provide farm-to-fork access to participants in the food supply chain.

Currently, alternative online lists and portals are offered that contribute to connecting people and businesses involved in the production, distribution, storage and sales of local food, and resources produced by Virginia farms and agribusinesses. This purpose of this article is to highlight the unique characteristics of MarketMaker that offer added value to registered businesses and consumers who seek to use the portal as a marketing strategy to improve overall profitability of their operation.

MarketMaker is….

  • A public collaboration between Virginia’s land-grant universities, agriculture industry groups, and Riverside Research (a non-profit dedicated to advance scientific research in the public interest). Each partner state in the MarketMaker network is supported by the Cooperative Extension Service, the land-grant university, Farm Credit, state department of agriculture, agriculture industry groups, or a combination of these and others to bring the program to the constituents in their states. National sponsors and their logos are highlighted in Figure 1. These groups work together to financially support the program and provide educational and marketing initiatives to ensure MarketMaker is a valuable resource to businesses, farmers and consumers.
Figure 1: National Sponsors The Agricultural Marketing Resource Center (AgMRC), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Farm Credit are all national sponsors of MarketMaker. Each state has its own partners and sponsors.

Figure 1: National Sponsors
The Agricultural Marketing Resource Center (AgMRC), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Farm Credit are all national sponsors of MarketMaker. Each state has its own partners and sponsors.

  • A geographically broad and searchable database at the national, regional, and local levels (Figure 2). Users can filter results based on state, county, business type and characteristics and certifications.
Figure 2: Advance Search Features By clicking on the search filter tab, you can filter results by state, county, business type and characteristics.

Figure 2: Advance Search Features
By clicking on the search filter tab, you can filter results by state, county, business type and characteristics.

  • A detailed business profile that allow for specific searches based on selected criteria. Users of Market Maker can easily search to find businesses that sell and buy products with the desired characteristics and certifications, such as completion of the USDA Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) audit process, Kosher Certified, or source-verified food and food products. Users can also search for desired products sold at specific market outlets. For example, a search can be conducted for tree nuts sold at farmers markets, or rhubarb sold wholesale. In Figure 3, an illustration of the use of a search filter to identify desired products and specifications is presented.
Figure 3: Comprehensive Business Profiles Each business has the opportunity to select multiple characteristics of their products for each part of their business. This allows the buyer to search for exactly the characteristics of products they would like to purchase.

Figure 3: Comprehensive Business Profiles
Each business has the opportunity to select multiple characteristics of their products for each part of their business. This allows the buyer to search for exactly the characteristics of products they would like to purchase.

  • A platform that builds upon relationships with other lists and organizations through affiliations. Businesses that belong to certain statewide or regional groups (Figure 4) can be found by searching the affiliation directory on state MarketMaker sites.
Figure 4: Affiliation Directory One the homepage for each state partner there is an Affiliation Directory. By clicking on an affiliation you can search that affiliation’s directory of members on MarketMaker.

Figure 4: Affiliation Directory
One the homepage for each state partner there is an Affiliation Directory. By clicking on an affiliation you can search that affiliation’s directory of members on MarketMaker.

  •  A source to find out what is in season. This is accomplished by clicking on the In Season tab (Figure 5) on the state’s main page. If you want to build a local menu but aren’t sure what’s currently available in your area, you can check the “In Season” tab on your state’s MarketMaker homepage for a list of farm products that are in season.
Figure 5: In Season Tab Click on the In Season tab on each state partner’s home page to see what is currently available in season in that state.

Figure 5: In Season Tab
Click on the In Season tab on each state partner’s home page to see what is currently available in season in that state.

  • A research tool that has an interactive mapping resource (Figure 6) for identifying target markets, developing customized census profiles, and mapping food related businesses over demographic maps. If you would like assistance learning how to use the Market Research tool in VA MarketMaker please contact Dr. Kim Morgan. The following are some of the things we can do with the MarketMaker research tool:
    • Identify and map regions with the highest per capita consumption of fruits and vegetables.
    • Build a customized census profile for a target market area or region of interest.
    • Find and map food deserts.
    • Find and map farmers markets serving ethnic neighborhoods.
Figure 6: Market Research Tool By clicking on the Market Research tool on the state partner’s home page, you can select and map several data sets to help identify target markets and more.

Figure 6: Market Research Tool
By clicking on the Market Research tool on the state partner’s home page, you can select and map several data sets to help identify target markets and more.

Visit the Virginia Market Maker page on the Virginia Cooperative Extension site for new updates and information on educational programs offered, or, contact Dr. Kim Morgan for additional information. Share this post using the links following this article, and, stay connected by subscribing to this blog to receive updates on Virginia Market Maker programming, follow Dr. Morgan on Twitter and, like the Agricultural and Applied Economics Department on Facebook!

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