Dr. Kimberly L. Morgan (email@example.com), 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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!