Explore Local: Selling Local

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Direct Marketing Channels l Direct Marketing Statistics l Local Food Research

Direct Marketing Channels

In this section you can expect to find general information about what direct marketing entails and the different channels by which farm products are sold directly to consumers. This section also offers links to more specific information on Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farmers markets, on-farm markets, agri-tourism, restaurant and institutional sales and internet sales.

Overview of Local market channels

Local Food Producer Profiles
The Explore Local Producer Profiles project is a collection of business profiles focusing on producers operating in Alberta who sell their local food products direct to consumers through a variety of local market channels.

On Farm Sales
Selling farm direct means selling fresh fruits and vegetables, flowers, bedding plants, herbs, meats, jams, pies, sausages and other farm products at a farm or ranch gate, a farm or ranch store or stand, a roadside stall, an on-farm greenhouse, a U-pick farm, a community supported agriculture farm or by Internet or mail from a farm directly to the end consumer. Developing relationships with your customers is key to the success of this marketing
channel. Click here for resources specific to farm direct marketing.

Farmers’ Markets
A niche farm direct marketing channel which creates the opportunity for customers to buy Alberta grown food, crafts and homemade goods from the Alberta producer, crafter or entrepreneur. The resulting communication and sharing of information creates trust and builds a sense of community. The market is designed to become a destination and attraction which builds goodwill, sharing and community support reminiscent of the ‘town square’ of previous generations. Click here for resources specific to farmers' markets.
To learn more about the Alberta Approved Farmers’ Market Program.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
Community supported agriculture consists of a partnership between consumers and producers in which consumers contract or buy shares in farm products in advance and producers commit to supply a range of products over the entire season. Often, consumers have the option to participate in planting, cultivation and harvest. Click here for more resources on community support agriculture.

Food Hubs
A food hub is a profitable and sustainable business model that actively manages the aggregation, logistical coordination, and marketing of source-identified food products primarily from local producers to strengthen their ability to satisfy year round wholesale, retail, and institutional market demand.
Click here for resources specific to food hubs.

Ag Tourism
Ag tourism is the marriage between two of Alberta's top industries - agriculture and tourism. It presents the consumer or tourist with an opportunity to engage in a direct exchange of values between themselves and the farm community - whether it is at a farmers' market, on a farm tour, at an agriculture festival or fair, or at a country vacation farm or market garden. Click here for resources specific to ag tourism and cluster development.

Direct to Restaurant/Institutions
Regional cuisine advocates the usage of quality locally grown ingredients, in union with the culture, geography, and history of Alberta. In this marketing channel, the producer sells directly to the chef or manager of a restaurant, or an institution. Click here for resources specific to regional cuisine.

Online Sales
E-commerce is a marketing tool that uses the internet to market goods and services around the world.

Direct Marketing Statistics

Local Food Research

Explore Local Research
  • The Study of Local Food Demand in Alberta 2016 is now available. In 2004, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (AF) established a baseline estimate of consumer food expenditure at farmers’ markets and farm retail in Alberta. The study was repeated in 2008 and began to explore the trend to purchase local food, defined as “food grown or made in Alberta” and its value represented at farmers’ markets and farm retail. As market opportunities for farmers continue to grow by selling through a variety of market channels, the study repeated in 2012 also established a baseline estimate of consumer food expenditure at restaurants chosen for serving local food. The study was repeated in 2016 and compared with previous findings.
  • Two research reports assessing the demand for local food in both Calgary and Edmonton are now available. The purpose of the studies was to increase awareness and understanding of consumers buying local food through direct marketing channels.
  • The Community Supported Agriculture Study final report is now available. The purpose of the study was to profile community shared agriculture, also known as community supported agriculture (CSA) operators in Alberta and increase understanding of the business models, pricing structures and performance of CSAs. The research involved three primary components: a literature review, a survey conducted by interviewing 25 CSA operators and a focus group to validate research findings.
  • In 2011 and 2012, Explore Local conducted a series of case studies on local food supply chains in Alberta. These studies cover 15 different supply chain cases. This design allows for comparisons of 3 supply chain types (direct, intermediated and mainstream) for the same product in the same location, and of the same supply chain type across products. Cross product comparison allows general conclusions to be drawn on how direct market and intermediated supply chain performance compares with the performance of the mainstream supply chain.

Explore Local Research
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For more information about the content of this document, contact Eileen Kotowich.
This document is maintained by Delores Serafin.
This information published to the web on July 8, 2016.
Last Reviewed/Revised on July 27, 2018.