[Market-farming] RE: selling tomatoes/prices

JOHN A HENDRICKSON jhendric at wisc.edu
Sun May 8 21:34:19 EDT 2005

Plenty of good advice was recently offered but I want to (state the
obvious) and add that you should certainly know your costs of production
and make sure that your price covers your costs and pays you adequately
for your time and investment.  If the market will not bear a price that
covers your costs and pays you adequately for your time, it is time to:
1. find ways to lower your costs and labor time
2. consider a different market (that will bear your price)
3. consider different crops


> USDA market prices, if you mean the ones I think, are wholesale 
> large-scale market and run lower than you should be getting retail; 
> though it's useful to know what they are. Look around and see what 
> tomatoes go for retail in your area, including both other marketers 
> and 
> the grocery stores. (You may well see a huge range, depending on 
> the 
> type of pack, even in the same grocery.) Consider what your 
> packaging 
> is like both in type and quantity (as well as quality: are you 
> selling 
> firsts only, or also "canning quality" with some blemishes?). 
> Consider 
> that you're probably providing fresher product than the groceries. 
> Local produce is beginning to be a selling point in itself, as 
> indeed 
> it should be. Also, do you have interesting varieties with more 
> flavor?
> In general, don't start your prices too low; you'll be doing 
> neither 
> yourself nor other growers any favors. Bear in mind that you can 
> always 
> lower prices later in the day or season, but you can't easily raise 
> them midseason; also that it's possible to lose money selling more 
> product too cheap, when you could have made money selling less 
> product 
> at a fair price. -- Remember, however, that you need to know where 
> you 
> are. What you can get in, for instance, downtown Manhattan isn't 
> what 
> you can get in Yates County. But more expensive markets often cost 
> more 
> to sell at, and depending where you are can cost you a lot more in 
> both 
> time and money to get to.
> There's a really good article on this, as well as other subjects, 
> available at:
> http://www.growingformarket.com/
> Click on the link for the free special issue about selling at 
> farmer's 
> markets.
> If you sell them wholesale to other people's farmers' market 
> stands, 
> you're going to get a percentage of what they can sell them for. 
> Ask 
> them what their usual markup is. Again, if you're providing better 
> quality than other possible sources, you should get paid more for 
> it; 
> as they can charge more, and as they should have less waste. But 
> (whether direct or wholesale) you really do need the better quality 
> to 
> charge the extra price.

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