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Regional marketing—A competitive niche for small and mid-scale growers

The Issue

An increasingly competitive global marketplace combined with higher input, labor and land prices have put pressure on many small and mid-scale growers throughout the state. As a result, many growers are looking to diversify their markets such as taking advantage of local or regional marketing. Consumers are demanding more food from local growers. Regional supplies mean that food is often fresher, and has traveled less distance from "farm to fork," thereby reducing ever-increasing fuel costs. More growers and their associations are beginning to establish “place-based” logos or labels as a way to create and maintain the value of their products and contribute to the economic viability of their operations.

What Has ANR Done?

In the last several years, SAREP has produced practical reports about place-based marketing options for regional growers in California.

Assessing the Local Marketing Potential for Mandarin Growers in Placer County- details the advantages Placer growers have being located in a county with a well-established system of farmers markets, advertises the 10-year-old Mandarin Festival that attracts 30,000 visitors, and highlights the Mountain Mandarin Magic grove tour.

Regional Agricultural Marketing: A Review of Programs in California- is a helpful resource for regional groups interested in marketing local agriculture, or for those looking at the ways communities are responding to changes in the food system.

Additionally, SAREP has prepared an evaluation of farm-to-school programs in several school districts in California. The data includes an analysis of sales to local growers, as well as school children's participation and consumption patterns and an economic analysis of income and costs for the school district.

The Payoff

Farmers use UC information to find marketing options

More and more farmers are making use of UC SAREP publications. According to Sunkist Growers Inc., the Placer County mandarin marketing publication is responsible for a noticeable increase in mandarin plantings in Kern and Tulare counties.

SAREP's easily searchable web site gives visitors access to specific crop information as well as general marketing concepts. In the first seven months of its placement on the internet, "Assessing the Local Marketing Potential for Mandarin Growers in Placer County" was accessed by approximately 850 visitors, while the full "Regional Agricultural Marketing: A Review of Programs in California," got almost 500 visitors in four months.

Clientele Testimonial

"I'd like to commend your team on the very useful and thorough study of
Placer County mandarins. I believe the extensive plantings of Clementine mandarins that are taking place in Kern and Tulare counties are related to this study. We are very pleased to see UC researchers focus on this aspect of citrus production."—Bill Martinet, Sunkist Growers, Inc.

"Your report provides exactly the kind of outline, questions and discussion of issues that are useful to the food and agriculture academic community."—Jim Bingen, professor, community, food and agriculture, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI


Supporting Unit: Sustainable Agricultural Research & Education Program

Gail Feenstra, UC SAREP, One Shields Ave., UC Davis, Davis, CA 95616-8716; 530-752-8408; gwfeenstra@ucdavis.edu http://www.sarep.ucdavis.edu/