Four Ways to Sell Into the Institutional Market
Wisconsin producers have many options to access the institutional market. Which is right for you? Read about them here, and find information about everything from food safety to yield data in the general resources section, below.
1. IFM Local Foods Program
Join IFM and have your company profiled on the IFM Local Foods Program page for large volume buyers to see. In addition, IFM Member producers and distributors are promoted in the IFM Local Sourcing E-News.
2. Sell Directly to Institutions
Some institutions buy farm direct. Smaller and private institutions are more likely to have this flexibility. Download our factsheets to learn more about who food service directors are and how to contact them about your products:
- Institutional Buyers 101 Fact Sheet
- Marketing to Institutional Buyers 101 Fact Sheet
- A template letter for contacting food service directors
3. Sell Through a Local Produce Aggregator
Produce auction cooperatives and companies that represent many growers, such as Simply Wisconsin or Green and Green, offer another way to sell into this market. Visit these websites to learn if selling this way works for you:
4. Sell to a Distributor
Check out our fact sheet, Working With Distributors, and see Distributor Profiles of Wisconsin distributors that purchase local produce and value-added products. Every distributor has different specifications and their own process for working with growers. Another resource is this sample product specification sheet – it will help you understand the detailed information a distributor may want about your produce.
- Publications by UW-Extension about production, pest management, marketing, and more!
- University of Minnesota suggestions on cultivars
- U.S. Grade Standards
Packaging for large volume buyers
Food Safety – what you need to know
While many institutions do not require local growers to have Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification, most will want a written food safety plan. Distributors are more likely to require GAP of all growers.
- Food safety self-evaluation from DATCP
- Create a food safety manual using the FamilyFarmed.org tool
- On-farm Food Safety: Guide to Good Agricultural Practices from the Iowa State University Extension
- Audit Verification Checklist for GAP and GHP for the USDA
- Fact sheet on Agri-lite
- FSA Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program
- Food product liability insurance tips from the Center for Profitable Agriculture at UT-Extension
Loans and Grants
- Dane County Revolving Loan Fund: Are you a producer in Dane County that wants a loan to expand your business? The Dane County Revolving Loan Fund offers very low-interest agricultural enterprise loans that help to create or retain jobs in Dane County. Interested candidates can contact Olivia Parry at (608) 266-4270 or email@example.com.
- Got Moo-La? A DATCP resource on funding sources for businesses
- Buy Local Buy Wisconsin grants
- USDA Rural Development Grants
- USDA Rural Development Loans
- FSA loans
Business development help
- Ag Innovation Center page for agricultural entrepreneurs
- Wisconsin Small Business Development Center offers resources and training for new and existing small businesses
- Crop budgets from the UW Center for Dairy Profitability for many kinds of fruit and vegetable crops
- The Beef Cutout Calculator lets users view yields and values for different cuts
- Pricing Your Products for Retail and Wholesale Markets offers insights from Mark Olson of Renaissance Farm (Spring Green, WI)
- Yield data for fresh market vegetables
- Wholesale Success, a publication from Family Farmed, contains information about selling, post harvest handling, and packing produce!
- The Wisconsin Local Food Marketing Guide contains information about selling to many kinds of markets, including the institutional market.