Today, the organic food business is booming, and it’s easier than ever to turn your health-based business into a reality. Although the USDA doesn’t have any official statistics regarding organic retail sales in the United States, several industry resources demonstrate a clear spike in sales and consumer interest.
Today’s shoppers care about where their food is coming from. According to the Organic Trade Association, in 2017, organic food sales saw growth of 6.4%. People are concerned about the origin of their food, as well as how it’s processed. For business owners launching organic businesses—whether it’s a farm to table restaurant or an organic health food store—the trends and stats are on your side.
Here’s what you need to know about running a successful organic food business:
Educate Your Consumers
Part of running an organic business is having the ability to convey the benefits of that business. Ask yourself, why should consumers purchase organic? Not everyone understands the answer, and organic products and product backgrounds range from business to business. To do this, it helps to have clear packaging that always conveys the pros of using that particular product.
You should also use your website and blog to continuously raise awareness about issues affecting the food industry today. Many organic companies also choose to partner with local organizations and donate a percentage of the proceeds. Adding this to your value proposition can only help your bottom line and brand perception. Create a shortlist of nonprofits that could benefit from your help. And lastly, work with influencers in your industry to help spread awareness.
Partner With Food Suppliers—Or Start Your Own
Your consumers need to know where their food comes from—and so do you. For example, when you’re selling organic meat, it’s important that you conduct regular site visits to farms to ensure total accuracy and transparency. You’re looking for farms who treat their livestock well, feed them grass and certified organic foods, and operate on range free pastures. And most importantly, you’re looking for a genuine commitment and interest from the team running the business.
You may find that local organic suppliers can only produce a limited number of product; after all, unlike other farms, they do not operate like farm mills. Raising livestock and growing produce takes time. You should identify several vendors to satisfy your needs.
On the other hand, you can start a farm of your own, giving you total control of the farm-to-store process. Perhaps you’ll begin with a search for cattle ranches for sale, and then think about the type of livestock you can raise and the help you’ll need. Ideally, you’ll already have some experience working with animals or a degree in animal science. Even if you plan on hiring a large team, general knowledge of the food industry and raising livestock is necessary.
You should also start small and earn off-farm income at the same time. Volunteer platforms, like Workaway, allow you to bring experienced helps on board. You can offset some costs with a low-interest loan through the Farm Service Agency.
Give Your Brand a Story
Every business owner has a story to tell—no matter who you are. Conveying this story goes hand in hand with educating your consumers. To do so, it helps to take a look at other brands and see how they’re communicating their stories. This can offer you some much-needed inspiration. For instance, Warby Parker explains its mission on its website, taking the time to not only describe their goal of making eyeglasses more affordable, but why it wanted to achieve those goals in the first place. The story? One of the founders lost their eyeglasses during a backpacking trip, and they were far too expensive to replace.
Lukas Volgar, who founded Made by Lukas—a line of fresh veggie burgers—decided to include his own signature on the packaging. He wanted to differentiate himself from mass market brand names like Betty Crocker, a fictitious food character.
Your story embodies who you are and what your business stands for. It allows you to create a powerful connection between yourself and your potential customers. Giving your brand a story helps humanize your business, and shows your commitment to the organic cause.