In many cases the ventures add value to commodities through processing. In other instances the value has been enhanced by assuring end users the crops have been grown a certain way. Identify-preserved grains and oilseeds promise characteristics desirable to processors. Meats may be desirable to consumers if they are certified as hormone and antibiotic free. Organic fruits and vegetables typically merit higher prices.
Another important and readily deployable strategy to add value is identifying to consumers who the producer is. Indeed, meeting that simple demand is fueling an important trend in the American food economy.
For much of the last decade the popularity and number of farmers markets have grown steadily. Latest USDA figures reveal there are now 3,137 such markets operating in the U.S. That a 79 percent increase in the last 8 years. During that period the number of farmers who sell at these markets tripled to 67-thousand.
On average about three million Americans a week now buy fresh food directly from the people who grew it. Sales through farmers markets last year totaled more than a billion dollars.