Whether they’re shopping for gifts or preparing to cook a big holiday meal, farmers’ market customers are seeking easy ways to accomplish an endless to-do list during the holidays. By marketing your products in a way that simplifies these tasks, you can use the sales of homemade Thanksgiving items boost your farm business’ bottom line this season.
1. Creative Condiments
Every part of the holiday meal has room for the kinds of condiments you produce and sell at the market. Pepper jelly can be served with fresh goat cheese for a winning appetizer, and it makes a flavorful spread for a leftover turkey sandwich. Pickled vegetables can be added to an appetizer platter or complement a cheese tray. Canned cranberry sauces, ketchup and barbecue sauce can be served alongside the turkey.
Market these products in a way that highlights their value to a traditional Thanksgiving meal, and the leftovers that everyone looks forward to. Add a gift tag or provide a postcard with suggested uses. Just remember that when preparing value-added foods to sell, you will need to consult with your state’s commercial kitchen and prepared food laws to ensure you work within appropriate guidelines.
2. Special Seasonings
Everyone has that jar of poultry seasoning or pumpkin pie spice in the pantry that is used only during the holidays, and each passing year it loses more of its flavor. Packaging single servings of these classic spice mixes are appealing to shoppers who do most of their cooking during the holiday season.
Consider putting together a multi-pack of a seasoning to be combined with sour cream for an appetizer dip, poultry seasoning for dinner, pumpkin pie spice for desserts, and a mix of curry and other spices to stir into turkey salad for leftovers. Package a combination of herbs and spices, like chili powder, coriander and cayenne, to make roasted nuts, seasoning mix for stuffing, and dried herbs to stir into roasted root vegetables. These are the types of products that are both helpful in the kitchen and can be given as a gift.
3. Mixes and Kits
Mixes and kits for side dishes and desserts make it simple for your customers to put together a fresh, locally sourced meal. Do you sell freshly baked breads? Dry bread cubes and combine it with herbs and seasonings to package as a complete stuffing mix. Put together a pie or cobbler kit that includes a small pie pumpkin or canned fruit filling with all of the dry ingredients needed for a crust. A jar of dry ingredients for biscuits paired with sliced country-ham and farm-fresh cheese makes an easy breakfast for a holiday morning.
If you still have fresh vegetables available, combine baskets of root vegetables like turnips, parsnips and carrots that roast well together and include a seasoning mix. Make a salad kit with fresh kale, dried fruits, nuts and seasonings to make a dressing. You can even package products like honey, nuts, cinnamon and homemade marshmallows and sell them with fresh sweet potatoes for a casserole.
Just remember that your customers will need guidance with these types of gifts. Prepare a recipe card that includes the additional ingredients necessary to complete the dish, as well as instructions on how to prepare it. Butter, milk and eggs are just a few of the additional ingredients they will need to have on hand. If you sell these items, add them to the kit. If not, consider working with another vendor to provide additional resources and increase sales for both of you.
4. Gift Bags and Baskets
Selling gifts allows you to pull together multiple items that you have for sale and dress them up in bags or baskets so that they are ready to give as soon as the customer leaves the market. These items are perfect as hostess gifts or just to say “I’m thankful for you.”
Give the gifts a theme. For example, a pie basket for the baker may have winter squash, sweet potatoes, persimmons, citrus, canned pie fillings, crust mix, and fresh eggs and butter. A juice lover’s basket might include greens that can be juiced, such as kale, as well as carrots and apples. Consider adding glassware with your company logo for drinking the juice. Don’t limit your basket to food. A relaxing retreat basket might include alpaca yarn, knitting tools, a pattern, a mint herb mix for tea and a tea mug with your logo.
5. Holiday Décor
Take advantage of selling your products for more than preparing the Thanksgiving meal. Consider offering holiday décor. Sets that include haystacks, winter squash, mums and flint corn can make you a one-stop shop for your customers decorating needs. Make wreaths with fresh herbs to hang on the door as a welcome to dinner guests or a vase of herbs for a centerpiece. Baskets in a variety of sizes with small squash and pinecones also make a great gift or centerpiece.
About the Author: Lori Rice is a nutritionist, writer, recipe developer and author of The Everything Guide to Food Remedies (Adams Media, 2011). She shares her recipes, food photography and travel adventures on her blog, www.fakefoodfree.com.