Ariana Torres

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A research team at Purdue University invites you to participate in a survey of specialty crops growers to better understand your production and marketing challenges. This survey will help us identify future production and marketing research to help support growers like you. The survey takes approx. 10-15 minutes. Take the survey: Your responses are important because you will be representing your neighbors as well as yourself. Information from this study can help inform policymakers, state legislators, and industry stakeholders. If you have questions or concerns, please contact me to: Dr. Ariana Torres; Assistant Professor and Marketing Specialist; telephone: (765) 494-8781; email: Thank you very much for considering this invitation! Your help is greatly appreciated.

Today, seven out of 10 Americans use social media to share information, find entertainment, and engage with businesses (Pew Research Center, 2017). Social media have become an important information source for Millennials; yet, Baby Boomers and Generation Xers are significantly increasing their use of Facebook and other social media platforms. Among social media platforms, Facebook remains the most popular with almost 80 percent of online adults, followed by Instagram (32 percent), Pinterest (31 percent), LinkedIn (29 percent), and Twitter (24 percent). If you are selling directly to consumers, this article can assist your business social media marketing. Social media influences how Americans purchase products and services, so it is proving to be a powerful — and inexpensive — marketing tool. Businesses can use social media to increase their online exposure, attract new customers, highlight new products or services, hear what customers and potential customers say, and most importantly, build relationships.[Read More…]

Farmers markets are a centerpiece of local food systems. These markets connect farmers with consumers and provide important economic benefits. While Indiana farmers can take advantage of the opportunities from selling directly to consumers, they face a dearth of information regarding pricing and marketing strategies. Information about pricing and product quality requirements are generally available for farmers who produce enough volume to enter wholesale markets. Larger farmers selling wholesale can access these weekly reports to define their marketing strategies, assess investment in new technologies, and assure profitability. On the other hand, Indiana’s small farmers have faced a lack of pricing and sales information regarding Indiana’s 155 farmer’s markets. Thus, Indiana farmers have had to rely on farmers market prices from neighboring states or walk down the market aisles to define prices, assess potential profitability, and determine market feasibility. The Horticulture Business Extension Program at Purdue University team started collecting fruit[Read More…]

In the past season, we tested performances of eight specialty melons grown under high tunnel, greenhouse, hydroponic, and conventional field systems. The melon varieties we have tested in our trials include Lilliput, Inspire, Sugar Cube, French Orange, Tasty Bites, Escorial, Savor, and Artemis. Many of these melon varieties are Charentais (Cucumis melo var. cantalupensis). A specialty melon type with an outstanding fragrant smell. If you are wondering how to grow these specialty melons, please follow us at the Indiana Hort Congress. We will present what we have learned about growing these specialty melons under different production systems.

Financial tools can help farmers improve farm’s performance and assure profitability. Enterprise budgets, financial statements, and sensitivity analyses are examples of financial tools that assist farmers on their decision-making. Enterprise budgets are a reliable tool that help keep track of revenues and expenditures associated with a specific crop. Farmers using these budgets can estimate the net profits per area of production, and assess if this profit is enough money to achieve their profitability goals. Budget information can also help farmers determine the minimum quantity of produce they need to sell (breakeven yield analysis) and the minimum price (breakeven price analysis) they should charge to cover all costs. Overall, enterprise budgets can help farmers to provide a realistic projection of the income, expenses and profits of a new crop or enterprise. Building the HortBusiness Calculator for Cantaloupes Our team, at the Horticulture Business Extension program at Purdue University, is developing the[Read More…]

Figure 1. Odd pricing used by farmers selling at the Lafayette (Indiana) Farmers Market.

This publication is the second part of a series of publications that aim to help farmers selling at farmers markets and other local markets. Below we offer information on price determination and pricing strategies for farmers markets. The importance of understanding pricing information Pricing is probably the single most important driver of farm profitability and long-term sustainability; yet it tends be one of the least controlled factors by farmers. The price that you tend to set for their produce represents the monetary value of a product. In economic terms, price reflects how much the consumer values your produce, which depends on internal (produce quality, the farm’s image, production yield, credit terms) and external (competitors, consumers’ preferences, seasonality) factors. A study by Darby et al. (2008) found that consumers prefer locally grown over regional or U.S. grown, and are willing to pay almost twice as much for local products. For example,[Read More…]

Farmers markets continue to grow in number and locations. According to the United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA-AMS), there are currently 8,702 farmers markets in the United States, an increase of almost 400 percent since 1994 (USDA-AMS, 2017). The USDA-AMS directory of farmers markets reported 191 farmers markets in Indiana by August 2017: 129 summer and 62 winter markets. Indiana farmers markets vastly differ in size: markets may occupy a few stalls to several city blocks. For example, the Broad Ripple Farmers Market is an 80-vendor market in Indianapolis and is considered one of the biggest farmers market in Indiana. Depending on the location, summer market season is anytime between mid-March until mid-November, while the winter season tends to be between November and March. Winter and summer markets offer vastly different produce choices. Winter markets usually offer less produce and the majority of the sales are spinach, kale,[Read More…]

The latest Census of Agriculture reported that 244,974 U.S. farmers utilized more than 14 million acres to grow specialty crops in 2012. In Indiana 2,935 farmers grew specialty crops on 63,252 acres. Indiana’s specialty crop industry includes operations that grow fruit and vegetable, tree nut, dried fruit, horticulture, floriculture, and nursery crops. Specialty crops include a long list of agricultural products that are sold through a wide variety of market channels. A pair of Purdue Extension publications show the results of a survey of Indiana specialty crops farmers. The survey found that most specialty crops farmers sell their fruit and vegetables through farmers markets or other local outlets, tend to be smaller, and grow 20 crops on average. Details are available in Fruit and Vegetable Farmer Surveys: Characteristics of Indiana Vegetable Farming Operations (Purdue Extension publication HO-270-W) and Fruit and Vegetable Farmer Surveys: Characteristics of Indiana Vegetable Farmers (HO-271-W). Both[Read More…]

Figure 1. The relationship between costs, prices, and profit margin

Fall is already here and winter is closer than expected. As business starts to slow take the opportunity to reflect on what was great, good, or not-so-good during this growing season. This time of year also brings the opportunity to start planning next year’s strategies. Pricing strategy is one of the key strategies influencing your earnings. This article provides you the top 5 issues you should consider before setting prices for your products. 1. Define your price floor. The price floor is the minimum price you can afford to receive from customers and still cover the total costs involved in bringing your products to life. A tomato farm that sells tomatoes by pounds can calculate the price floor, or total costs per pound of tomato, by adding all costs and dividing them by the total pounds produced. Costs can be further categorized as variable costs if they vary with the level[Read More…]