Monday, March 28, 2011

Edible Louisville

Potential vendors looking to take advantage of local food opportunities should have a look at the Edible Food Communities slate of resources nationally.

Edible Communities can be explored at -

Specifically, features for Louisville, Northern Kentucky, Memphis, Indy all highlight our nearby food suppliers.  But they also underline neat ideas for local foods in local markets from all over.

I noticed Jim Mansfield, Four Hill Farms, featured in this latest Edible Louisville edition.  Get a copy - paper or on-line.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Four Hills Farms Lamb

Kentucky farmer Jim Mansfield thought his 40 acres of forage could be turned into a tidy part-time income, growing livestock for sale while he held an office job.
Instead, his little part-time sheep herd has turned into herds on the farm across the road and another a few miles away. In addition, he is contracting with at least 15 family farmers around Central Kentucky to grow for his business, which provides lamb for Whole Foods in Kentucky and Southern Ohio, and has begun to sell to Kroger stores and a few restaurants.
Mansfield Launched in Whole Foods

He raises Katahdin sheep, named for Mt. Katahdin in Maine, where the breed was created in the 1950’s by crossbreeding traditional wool sheep with a Caribbean breed, referred to as “hair” sheep. Unlike dependable and widespread European breeds, Katahdin are not grown for wool and meat, but meat only. 
Katahdin can withstand heat and humidity (but grow furrier in the winter), often produce twins or triplets, require no shearing, are parasite-resistant, and are good mothers. As the Katahdin International website enthusiastically proclaims, “An all purpose sheep, for anyone, at any location, any time of year!”

While lamb auctions currently pay high prices to farmers, domestic production will no doubt rebound and prices will no doubt fall as a result. It’s then that Mansfield’s advantage for farmers should play out: he guarantees both the price and the market for farmers who raise sheep for him.
Mansfield is looking for more farmers to grow lamb for him. You can find more information about raising lamb and contact information at
contributed by -
Sarah Fritschner
Coordinator, Louisville Farm to Table

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Meat Marketing Labels for Compliance and Sales Appeal

We are fortunate to have a number of producers active in the local meats world.  They have each gone through various growing pains, but seem to be making headway with their products.

Good labels are a key succeess factor.  Labels need to sell and they need to meet USDA and state information requirements.  And new rules keep making their way into the market.

I asked Kenny Burdine ( and Lee Meyer (, our UK Extension meat marketing gurus, to give a little of their insight on the compliance part of meat labels.  Here's what they offered:

Labeling questions are common for marketers who want to sell meat producers directly to consumers via on-farm retail stores, farmers markets, or other outlets.  Title 9, part 317 of the Code of Federal regulations deals with labeling of meat products.  The Food Safety and Inspection Service of USDA has an extensive amount of information on their website including Frequently Asked Questions, label requirements, descriptions of the label approval process, and the full text of Title 9 part 317.  Additional sources of information would include local USDA meat processors in your area, labeling consultants, state officials, extension personnel, and others.

Talk with your meat processor about the labeling process. Most direct meat sellers have  two options. The simple one is to use your processor’s label. The more complicated option, but which many marketers will choose so they can promote their own identity, is to design their own labels for marketing purposes.  Most likely, these producers will need to submit form FSIS 7234-1 to USDA for approval.  Once approved, your label can be used.  The processor must keep the label and approval on file at their establishment.  Also be aware that many terms that are used for livestock and meat production have very specific definitions.  Some of these terms may not be useable on a label at all, while others may be considered labeling claims and require further verification.
The good news is that we have experienced processors around the state that can help producers just starting to sort this out.  The compliance side isn't really that difficult or costly.

Where you want to be sure to spend more time is on the SALABILITY of your label.  We talk about this a lot in MarketReady.  Quality labels and packaging sells what's  inside.  They differentiate you from other consumer choices.

The effort to evaluate your label is well spent.  And there is plenty of help.  DON'T FORGET ABOUT THE KDA POP (Point of Purchase) GRANTS.  Talk to Roger Snell at KDA or myself if you have a question, idea, or are looking for an application.  Meats or ANY food product.  Get a label that will go to work selling your product.

A number of KY meats have done a nice job with their labels.  I like what Stone Cross farms has done with KDA, utilizing the POP grant to develop their label for pork and beef.  Check out their site.  Let me know what you think.

Stone Cross Farms

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Chaney's Milk Joins Local Dairy Options at Houchens

Hooray for Carl and Debra Chaney.

After a long road of great perseverence, their milk is now on the shelves at Houchen's and hopefully at a grocer near you.  We've talked about their ice cream in MR and the efforts they've made to brand their products.

Chaney's has had a long reputation as a destination market - agritourism sort of venture.  Carl does a super job with the kids and it's a good revenue source for them.  Moving into a branded product on the retail shelf is a big step for them.  And for Houchens.  But it shows the interest retailers have in stocking products they can feature as 'local'.

Check out the Chaney's home page.  Note the KY Proud label and the big Houchens announcement.

There's an interesting label story here, too.  Had a conversation with Roger Snell from KDA earlier today and he pointed out how Houchens worked with the Chaney's to develop a clearer label for the milk.  The original label (see their site) is cute, creative, and fun, but tough to read in a 5 second pass by the dairy case.

Nice story in the SOKY from Bowling Green.  Free magazine.  Can't seem to find on-line versions of the story and Roger wouldn't let me take his.  Find a copy and read all about it.

Let me know if you see their milk in a store near you.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

National Grocers Association 2011 Consumer Survey Report

Here it is.  Hot off the press.  What 1718 U.S. chief shoppers are saying they are looking for in their primary grocery store.

It's interesting reading, easy to skim.  Download the report at -

Here's what jumped out at me - One of the questions asked "What improvements do you want to see at your primary food store?"  Top of the list ----- "More locally grown foods" (by 44% of primary shoppers)!  (see p 21 of the report)

Of course we knew that, didn't we.  This is the first year this improvement has taken the top spot in the list.  Evidentally it came in at 41% last year.  And the study notes that this trend is driven by the largest spenders in the survey.  So the big spenders really want your local products - these folks indicated more locally grown foods to the tune of 67%.

Do you think the grocers are noticing this?  Stay by your phones, producers.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Bath County Marketing Center on the Launching Pad

Held our MR trainings at Bath County this week.  Excellent turnout.  Sheep cheese, asparagus, interesting cattle breeds, the egg cooperative, many other interesting ventures pushing forward.

The Bath County Marketing Center looks fantastic.  Very attractive retail space.  It'll be a nice place to showcase a variety of Kentucky products.  The market manager has been hustling to line up vendors.  They're targeting an April start.  I know those attending our training were impressed.  The Bath County leadership is to be commended for all the hard work getting this facility in place.

Be sure to swing by for your own look whenever you're headed by Owingsville.

And don't forget to beautiful commercial kitchen facilities there.  Our MR crew was fixing to feast on some spectacular pie from Clear Creek Restaurant in Salt Lick, KY.  Check them out on Facebook.  Yes, MR friends, even these folks are fast buzzing on Facebook.  Thanks for the great food both nights.

Billy's BBQ

Whenever I go out to eat or shop I'm very tuned in to the promotion of local products - KY Proud or otherwise.  Even at lunch today with Mrs. Woods at one of our favorite Lexington BBQ places, Billy's BBQ, the main things I was looking for on the menu were some evidences of using loca ingredients.

They're not quite all the way there with farm estate branded ingredients, but I was pleased to note that many of their beef and pork products were at least Kentucky Proud.

Angela Caporelli, the KDA Coordinator for the Restaurant Rewards program, has assured me she's making available some of the neat promotion tools KY restaurants have used.  We'll feature those here and in future MarketReady trainings.  Some of our KY restaurants have been very creative.

Three other states that do an incredible job marketing local products in their restaurants include -

New Hampshire Farm to Restaurant - Amazing.  Surely we could get something like this in play in KY.

Texas' GoTexan Restaurant Roundup - ALREADY planning ahead for their big events in July.  We've emphasized how critical it is to get started early for these big local foods feature events.

Fresh on the Menu South Carolina - I especially like how easy it is to find participating restaurants on their site.  Good news for growers and locavores.

Let me know what your favorite local promotion in a restaurant has been.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

MarketReady from Elk Creek Winery

Had such a great showing at such a nice location for our training in Owenton.  Fitting.  Curtis does such an awesome job promoting local foods.

Good food finds its way to good places.  My last visit to Elk Creek included their new showcase of Kenny's Country Cheeses in their deli.

Branding.  Branding.  Branding.  We talk a lot about farm estate branded ingredients in such high demand from our KY chefs.  KY food entrepreneurs can again learn a lot from Curtis and Elk Creek as they have found ways to artfully, tastefully put their brand everywhere.