The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has received a $60,000 federal grant to explore new marketing opportunities for food and agricultural products. Minnesota is one of 19 states to receive a Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program (FSMIP) grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

MDA will use the grant to identify trends in consumer preferences and to improve marketing efforts of farmers and ranchers who sell direct to consumers through the Minnesota Grown Program. Minnesota Grown director Paul Hugunin says the surveys will be conducted at apple orchards, berry farms, Christmas tree farms and farmers markets to help producers of these products better understand their customers. 

“Specifically, we’ll be analyzing how far people traveled to get to the farm or market, how many people were in the shopping party, how much they spent, how they heard about the farm or market, how often they shop there, why they chose that farm or market, and basic age and gender demographics.”

Hugunin says results of the surveys will be reported back to the Minnesota Grown members and he expects to see some major changes from a similar survey conducted in 1998.

“Marketing trends and tools have changed significantly since then,” said Hugunin. “Today with the Internet, consumers have more ways to find the products they want and read product reviews. The results of these surveys will help farmers better understand changing consumer demographics.”

The consumer surveys will be conducted on-site and electronically beginning in September.

Source: Minnesota Department of Agriculture