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The Rise of Direct-to-Consumer Marketing

by: Jill Richardson

Tue Jun 16, 2009 at 12:05:59 PM PDT

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Farmers selling directly to consumers is on the rise all over the country - but all regions of the U.S. are not equal. For example, according to a new USDA report, the value of direct-to-consumer sales in 2007 was:

  • North Central (IL, IN, IA, KS, MI, MN, MO, NE, ND, OH, SD, WI): $300.8 million
  • Far West (AK, CA, HI, NV, OR, WA): $274.2 million
  • Northeast (CT, ME, MA, NH, NY, RI, VT): $212.9 million
  • Mid-Atlantic (DE, DC, MD, NJ, PA, VA, WV): $166.7 million
  • Southeast (AL, FL, GA, KY, MS, NC, SC, TN): $122.9 million
  • Southwest (AR, LA, OK, TX): $67.6 million
  • Rocky Mountain (AZ, CO, ID, NM, MT, UT, WY): $66.3 million

The rankings change when you look to see which region saw the greatest growth in direct-to-consumer sales:

Far West: +134.9%
Rocky Mountain: +134.7%
Northeast: +110%
Southwest: +105.8%
Entire US: +104.7%
North Central: +96.5%
Southeast: +93.1%
Mid-Atlantic: +73.6%

More below...

Jill Richardson :: The Rise of Direct-to-Consumer Marketing
Here's the most interesting numbers to me - the percent of all agricultural sales that were sold directly from farmer to consumer, by state. Enjoy!

Top 10 states, by percentage of agricultural sales sold directly to consumers:
RI: 9.5%
MA: 8.6%
NH: 8.0%
CT: 5.4%
VT: 3.4%
NJ: 3.1%
ME: 3.0%
AK: 2.9%
NY: 1.8%
HI: 1.7%

By region, that breaks down to (direct to consumer sales as a percent of all agricultural sales*):

Far West: 0.8%
Mid-Atlantic: 1.7%
North Central: 0.7%
Northeast: 3.8%
Rocky Mountain: 0.5%
Southeast: 0.4%
Southwest: 0.4%
United States: 0.8%

*These numbers (only) are adjusted to remove any agricultural products produced and sold that aren't actually foods or products a consumer can actually use, like feed corn.

The states with the highest percentages have 1) lots of food sold locally (obviously) but also 2) relatively less food marketed via traditional channels. As you'll see below, California sold more food directly to consumers than any other state in 2007 - but because they also sold produce to the entire nation, a very small percentage of their overall sales were actually direct-to-consumer

Top 10 Direct-to-Consumer Marketing Sales, 2007
1. CA: $162,896,000
2. NY: $77,464,000
3. PA: $75,893,000
4. MI: $58,923,000
5. OR: $56,362,000
6. OH: $54,270,000
7. WA: $43,537,000
8. WI: $43,491,000
9. MA: $42,065,000
10. TX: $38,696,000

(You'll notice here that quite a few of the states that have the most organics also have the most direct-to-consumer sales)

According to the report:

Farms with more than $50,000 in direct-to-consumer sales accounted for only 2.8% of the total number of farms who sold directly to consumers, but they captured 58.1% of all direct-to-consumer farm sales. Farms with annual direct-to-consumer sales below $5000 captured 11.7% of all the direct marketing sales while representing 77.4% of farmers engaged in direct marketing.
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The RI figure is really funny (4.00 / 2)
I suspect it's a pretty small sample; there's not much room in RI for farms.

Go NY! I wonder what amount of those sales happen in NYC. A lot, I'd bet.

I wish I knew half what the flock of them know
Of where all the berries and other things grow,
Cranberries in bogs and raspberries on top
Of the boulder-strewn mountain, and when they will crop.
--"Blueberries" by Robert Frost

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