Tracking prices in the volatile fresh foods market is tough, regardless of how large or small your operation is. It’s inevitable that sometimes you’ll be below and sometimes you’ll be above the average market rates. Thus, the most important thing to ensure is that you’re making money on every transaction, and that you are truly covering your costs and making a profit. Luckily, there are many tools out there to help you do just this.
Read on as we help you think about your pricing strategy. Whether you’re a small or medium-sized farm, knowing the basics and thinking about how to improve your systems will pay off.
A Simple Equation:
It may seem obvious, but many farms don’t truly calculate the costs of production of each type of crop when pricing them. When you’re pricing your products, are you considering everything that goes into it appearing on your sales sheet or on your market table?
It takes time, but creating Crop Enterprise Budgets is a great way to calculate exactly how much each of your crops cost to produce. You can then quickly identify which are the most profitable to you, and which may be selling a lot of quantity but are actually not making you much – or any! – profit at all.
If you don’t have time to drop everything to create a crop budget, you can at least learn how they work and use them as a framework to guide your thinking. Essentially, you can start viewing your crops with a new set of financial eyes to ensure you’re growing the right crops and pricing things appropriately.
One of the more difficult things about farming is tracking the volatile market. Especially when operating outside of the larger commodity market, it’s difficult to stay abreast of what is a high or low price. It can change based on weather, (perceived) scarcity of items, distributor influence, and a whole host of unpredictable reasons.
Below are some tips shared by both farmers and buyers:
- No matter what: charge enough to pay yourself fairly. Don’t undersell yourself.
- Customers will always complain about your prices. Don’t immediately lower them. Recognize (and calculate!) the value of your product and the cost it took to produce.
- Keep up-to-date of open-market prices: contact your local distributors and grocery store buyers to check on weekly prices, or – better yet – get on the email list of their weekly price sheets.
- Develop strong relationships with your buyers; they can give suggestions on how best to price your product.
- Even if you’re not growing organically, small and medium-scale farms can benefit by referring to the Organic Price Report.
Track Your Sales:
Many farms sell the same crops to the same channels year after year without doing the analysis to see if it even makes sense. A little bit of business planning can go a long way to your short-term and long-term financial health!
Just like investment advisors tell people to evaluate their portfolio each year to maximize their return, you too should evaluate your net revenue from each channel and determine if you’re selling the best crops to the best customers for your highest profit.
Here are some easy ways to track your sales:
- Use accounting software like QuickBooks to manage your invoices.
- Use duplicate hard-copy invoices to create an easy-to-follow paper trail.
- Measure volumes brought to the farmers market, and track what is leftover at the end (you can reconcile differences at a later date).
- Record weekly share crops and quantities – keep records!
- Do a little each day instead of letting it build up.
- Periodically put all sales numbers into your sales spreadsheet or accounting software. The breakdown of sales over time is highly valuable for financial planning.
To view more resources on financial planning, pricing and sales, visit our Business & Financial Planning and Marketing & Sales Toolkits. There, you’ll find easy-to-use info sheets, checklists, worksheets and recommended resources.
We’re continuing to expand the Marketing & Sales Toolkit, so stay tuned for more resources!
If you happened to miss it, check out our first feature in the Marketing & Sales Series:
If you have questions or words of wisdom about your pricing strategy, visit FarmsReach Conversations and post a question or comment!
If you have other great resources to share, get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.