Friday, May 29, 2015

More Direct Sales Tips

As mentioned in my last post, sales can be tricker than growing your vegetables and fruits. Here are four more tips:

4-Be informative about your products. Customers like to ask questions about how produce is grown, when it’s in season and how to serve or prepare certain produce. Be as informative as possible. If you are unable to answer some of their questions, refer them to the LSU AgCenter.

5-Exceed customers’ expectations. Carry heavy items to cars, provide recipes, give an extra hand-ful of the product they are purchasing. All these go a long way in making the customer feel valued and appreciated. Everyone loves something for nothing.

6-Apologize when things go wrong. Apologize when things go wrong. It’s difficult to make everyone happy all the time. Realize there will be days or moments when things go wrong and a quick apology even though you have done nothing wrong will show the customer you value their business.

7-Thank customers for their business. A simple thank you lets customers know you are appreciate and want to have the opportunity to serve them again.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Tips for Direct Sales

Growing fruits and vegetables for some farmers is easy compared to selling the produce through farmers’ markets, community supported agriculture (CSA) or road-side stands where earning the customers’ trust and loyalty is important. Winning customers over can take time, but can be financially rewarding.
Below are some suggestions:

1-Look neat, clean and happy to see your customers. You only have a few seconds to make a good impression. People will judge your products by your appearance. If you are a farmer, look the part; wear clean jeans, a fresh shirt or coveralls. Identify yourself by wearing a name tag or a shirt with your farm’s logo.

2-Engage customers quickly. Always assume a standing position, instead of a sitting position.  Standing allows you to move toward the customer with a greeting. Greet the customer with a “Hello, good to see you today,” or “What are you hungry for today?” These questions will help you begin a dialogue with the customer. Tell the customer your name and ask theirs if they do not volunteer it. Ask them what types of fruits and vegetables they like. Let them know what you have today and what you plan to have throughout the season. Ask them how they like certain vegetables. Do they like their summer squash large, or small and tender?  Do they normally shop early in the day or do they shop just before meal preparation time. How do they like their peas? Do they like to buy in small quantities and shell them or would they prefer to buy fresh peas shelled in bulk? These are just a few of the questions that can help you establish a relationship with customer. Remember customers who feel valued, buy and return again and again.

3-Keep consistent hours. Arrive when the market opens; stay until the market closes. If you are experiencing growing problems due to drought or too much rain, let customers know that you are experiencing problems which may keep you from having their favorite produce. Suggest where they can purchase until you have those products again.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Blueberry Season

We are in the middle of blueberry season for most parishes in Louisiana. You-pick-em farms tend to stay very busy during this season.  The average grower only have one acre, but that's lots of blueberries.

Whether selling on the farm or off the farm remind customers of the nutritional value of blueberries.

“Foods with a lot of color like blueberries have high levels of anthocyanins, which are antioxidants that help keep us healthy,”  says LSU AgCenter nutrition specialist Heli Roy.

Another reason blueberries are important is their ability to neutralize free radicals in the body.

“Free radicals are highly reactive compounds in our body, and we produce them all the time. When we breathe, oxygen is inhaled and carbon dioxide is exhaled,” Roy said. “During the process, free radicals are produced. They are produced excessively when you smoke or drink or by radiation like from the sun.”

That's a great selling point and one that will increase your sells.  Good luck this season!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Why Milk Should be Pasteurized

Unpasteurized, raw milk can harbor several bacteria that can cause severe illness, particularly in young children, the elderly and immune-compromised individuals, said an LSU AgCenter food safety specialist.

Consuming unpasteurized milk creates a greater likelihood of illness, said Wenqing Xu.

Unpasteurized milk has a greater chance to harbor food-borne pathogens, Xu said. These can include campylobacter, listeria, salmonella and E. coil I57:H7 – all of which can cause illness.

“Contamination of raw milk can occur from a variety of microorganisms from a variety of sources,” she said. The risk can occur at any stage of handling.

Illness from any of these pathogens takes a certain dose-response level – the amount of the pathogen required to cause symptoms, said LSU AgCenter dairy science professor Bruce Jenny.

“Unpasteurized milk has a high risk,” Xu said. “Symptoms may vary and may include diarrhea, vomiting and fever. In addition, listeria can cause miscarriage in pregnant women.”

Symptoms can range from minor to severe, depending on the individual and the level of the pathogen present, Jenny said.

Besides milk itself, products made from contaminated milk, such as cheeses and butter, are still unhealthy. “Contamination won’t disappear,” Xu said.

“Our concern is people think raw milk is better, healthier,” she said. But the data show no significant difference in health benefits.

“Unpasteurized milk is not a safe product,” Jenny said. “It has inherent hazards.”