Marketing plan-workable?

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by Jan in CO, Nov 28, 2006.

  1. Jan in CO

    Jan in CO Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I'm thinking of taking on more bum lambs this year, and wondered if I could break into the local market for them. What do you all think of this? I thought maybe I could take one of the December born lambs, have it commercially cut and wrapped, then take a leg of lamb, rack of lamb, some chops, to different chefs of the higher end restaurants and hotels in the area as a gift, one package each, with a few of my cards, and offer to either match the price they pay now for spring lamb, or maybe even a dollar per pound less if they order their Easter lamb from me. I don't know if they would tell me what they pay now, or if it's appropriate to ask. I raised six of the bottle lambs last year, and have them in now with my other ewes, and most if not all are bred now. I have the opportunity to take more lambs from the same breeder, at a 50-50 deal, raise them and give half back for mine being free, so I would just have the expense of goat's milk and a little hay/grain in them. Any thoughts, or things I'm not taking into account? Thanks, Jan in Co
     
  2. MorrisonCorner

    MorrisonCorner Mansfield, VT for 200 yrs

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    I'd make darn sure I know what they're paying for lamb now so I didn't back myself into a corner. I'd also make sure I knew what cuts chefs were buying. I can't see chefs in my area buying legs, for example. They want thick cut chops which make a nice presentation on a plate. And while they could do something nice with a leg, it doesn't plate up enough plates to make it worth their while to put on the menu. You'd have to be able to reliably supply pretty large quantities to make it worth the while of a restaurant to partner with you UNLESS you could work an exclusive with them and they could make you (local small fuzzy producer) part of THEIR marketing plan... as in "We have locally grown lamb..."
     

  3. Bearfootfarm

    Bearfootfarm Hello, hello....is there anybody in there.....? Supporter

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    I think to supply restaurants youd need enough lambs to have a continuous supply. Maybe you know of those who have it seasonally but around here its either on the menu or its not. I know of one farm that sells cuts directly to consumers and makes a lot of money that way. They also supply restaraunts but they run about 500 ewes too. Here's their website to give you an idea of how they do it.
    http://www.rmfpasturepuremeats.com/
     
  4. Somerhill

    Somerhill Well-Known Member

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    I think the idea of undercutting the price of their supplier is NOT good! You are offering a premium product with a "story" behind it. Don't be ashamed of your product! The type restaurant that serves high end entrees like lamb is not looking for price first - they are looking for quality and consistancy.

    There are a couple big hurdles you have not mentioned: One is, you don't have the numbers to produce a consistant product year-round. The other is that the restaurant is likely going to want only a few prime cuts of lamb - so what do you do with the rest?

    If it was me - I'd be going at it from a different angle. Why not talk to the chef about running a special featuring locally grown lamb. Offer to provide table tents and/or menu inserts telling your farm's "story" complete with a pretty picture of sheep grazing in a fresh green pasture. (no cute baby lambs please - for obvious reasons) :rolleyes: Be sure to have press releases for the local papers. Could you get the paper to run a story on your farm now, so you have a newspaper article you could mat and frame? People these days are so disconnected from their food and fiber supply, they are fascinated with the story behind where it comes from. They will buy things in order to "reconnect".

    Just a few thoughts.....
    Lisa at Somerhill
    www.somerhillfarm.com
     
  5. ONThorsegirl

    ONThorsegirl Fergusons Family Farm

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    My Only thought is that telling a story about how you buy orphaned lambs, bottle feed and then send them to the table, might not come across as to appealing to many. I know some people thought it was offensive reading a peice of paper that said " Buy raffle tickets now, you get the chance to win a calf or 500.00 cash" The calf was for meat it was cut and wrapped-Thats what they would win. This Paper was in the feed store that I work at, of all places its kind of expected to see things like that there!! but town people buying bird seed don't expect it I guess.

    Melissa
     
  6. Jan in CO

    Jan in CO Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Lots of good thoughts here! I suppose I hadn't thought about having a supply later on in the year, past Easter or so. I COULD breed more ewes and have lamb cuts for the holidays later on, IF I knew they would be interested. I could probably only provide enough lamb for one restaurant this coming year IF, big IF, they would even be interested. I don't plan on playing up the bum lamb part, as that is only part of the ewes I have, some I've raised here for years, and have been selling them one or two at a time by word of mouth advertising. Very good point not to sell the quality short, either. I was just trying to find some way to entice them into buying from ME as opposed to where they buy from now. Not sure how I can find out what they pay now, either. Any ideas? Thanks, Jan in CO
     
  7. Somerhill

    Somerhill Well-Known Member

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    The "story" is about you - your hopes and dreams, etc. Your customer does not want to see the manure, wrestling sheep to give vaccinations, etc. Its gotta be something that seems romantic and evokes ties to the past, etc.
    You've gotta tap into the customer's dreams and hopes - and get them to buy into yours.
    You want them to feel "wow, I wish I could have what they have" (even though they will never make the sacrifices to do it) and then buy something so they can have a part of that dream. It works the same way with any produce you sell from your farm. My fleeces sell better when I list the name of the sheep it came from. :)

    Lisa at Somerhill
    www.somerhillfarm.com
     
  8. CrownPoint

    CrownPoint Well-Known Member

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    These are all the questions I asked myself before I got into Sheepfarming. I found my market before I bought my flock. I bought my flock from a farm already producing lambs for the New York City and Boston high end restaurant market.

    This is quite a story and a great way for us to provide lambs all year long. We have a flock of sheep known as Cornell Dorset/Finn breed. Cornell University has a very intense research and development program for out of season breeding to provide lambs for market by lambing 5 times a year at the farm. Yes this requires time....but aren't we farmers??? We provide live lamb to a member only co-op that markets our product everyday to the chefs of these high class restauarants in NY and Boston. We ship them live to the co-ops choice of slaughterhouses and they are prepared as whole carcass'. Whole carcass is what we get paid for....at $5.50 a pound......yes I said $5.50 a pound!!! Then they are shipped in our co-ops refridgerated truck to the NYC and Boston restaurants within 48hrs after slaughter. The carcasses are carried whole from the truck (which is double parked by the way) to the back door of the NYC/Boston restaurant once a week. At that time, if I have the time or the opportunity, I can ride on that truck to help the co-op, they are delivered to the actual chef who is waiting to meet me/us the producer/farmer and comment on the meat we send him/her and he/she then prepares the lamb at $70-$80 a plate.....Yes I said $70-$80 a plate.

    I tell folks as long as you are willing to work hard, you can still make money as a farmer......I work hard everyday and I am satisfied with the final results of both....the paycheck I receive and the best resaurants in NYC/Boston serving our Lamb.

    Do your homework and work hard and you will be proud of what you raise for food for our country. The market is out there you just need to go out and find it.

    I MUST ADD....CHEFS CAN TELL WHAT FARMERS HAVE THE BEST ANIMALS VERY EASILY.....CUTTING CORNERS IS NOT AN OPTION IF YOU WANT TO GET INTO THE HIGH END RESTAURANT MARKET AND DO WELL. THE CHEF WILL TELL YOU IF THEY ARE NOT HAPPY WITH YOUR PRODUCT. SO TO THINK YOUR GOING TO UNDERCUT A CURRENT FARMER MAY NOT BE THE BEST WAY TO GET INVOLVED. PRODUCE THE BEST ANIMAL YOU CAN AND GET THE MOST MONEY FOR YOUR HARD WORK.
     
  9. SilverVista

    SilverVista Well-Known Member

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    Considering that the biggest lamb-slaughtering plant in the country is in Denver, I doubt that most of your restaurants are getting lamb direct from a farmer. They're ordering the grade and yield that they want through a bulk broker.

    I think you would do well to start out by researching area restaurants and chefs, and finding one with a "hand-crafted" philosophy. Locally grown.... naturally raised... not feedlot finished... and partner with them. Don't overlook the ethnic market -- Greek and Middle Eastern restaurants or deli's have a high demand for lamb. Don't forget to check out the calendar for Orthodox and Islamic holidays!

    Here's a link to a farm near me that is optimizing every possible cent of profit off their small flock. This is a retired couple who wanted to have a few sheep, but they were also willing to sieze opportunities and pursue quality. I remember when they first started. They have lived, moved and breathed sheep and sheep products for years now to get where they are.
    http://www.oregonwool.com/index.htm...ool.com/cgi-bin/woolnet_show_member.cgi?ID=22
     
  10. Jan in CO

    Jan in CO Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Wow. Thanks for the link, Silvervista! The only thing I could see those folks missed was selling fertilizer! Talk about optimizing your crop! I had considered just approaching the Middle Eastern restaurants and markets in the area, and may do that rather than trying to convince the high end hotels, etc. At least until I can increase the size of the flock! I have a friend who took one of my orphan lambs as a gift for her sweetheart last year, and may be able to talk her into raising more lambs if the market increases above what I can sustain on our small acreage. Lots of things to consider, and I do value all the input here!

    Jan in Co
     
  11. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    ROFL...I'm always telling dd to 'go outside and play with your food!' She loves telling her classmates that she eats her sheep. Last night she created an iron on transfer for a t-shirt with the most darling white lamb that says "Je Mange L'Agneau"...I eat lamb! We figure we'll sell it to unsuspecting vegetarians who can't speak French :rolleyes:

    SV, I've got to say that was the best lamb kabob I've ever eaten. Sudan is awesome, they even had DH wanting to go back to OFF, lol! I'll be combing through that website to see what else they do well.
     
  12. Bearfootfarm

    Bearfootfarm Hello, hello....is there anybody in there.....? Supporter

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    One other thing you may want to consider...Its VERY easy to sell right off the farm to people who will slaughter their own, or have them processed themselves. You can probably get more money selling cuts of meat, but youll end up with a lot of "left overs" and a lot of time involved . I just sell my customers a live lamb and dont have to deal with transporting or storing anything.
     
  13. minnikin1

    minnikin1 Shepherd

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    Every year at The Dutchess Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, they set up
    BBQ booths that are selling lamb burgers, lamb hot dogs, and lamb sausages. The fragrances that surround those booths keep the people lining up even when it's a LONG line.

    One reason you all may have trouble selling the lesser cuts is that the public just does not have the opportunity to try this stuff outside of these relatively rare functions.

    Maybe instead of looking for the fancy schmancy chef, you could look into
    those Smokin' Joes type rolling BBQ's that park outside of Lowes and the like.
    The great aromas floating out, and a few samples might convert a lot of folks.
    Or maybe a FancySchmancyGrass-Fed SmokinJoes?
     
  14. billooo2

    billooo2 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Several years ago there was a sheep farmer that went to certain fairs and festivals and sold lamb shish kebobs on a stick. There was always a line at his stand!!!!!! (One nice thing.......he got the same price for all of the cuts of meat.)
     
  15. Terry W

    Terry W Duchess of Cynicism

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    Hmm,, I joined a group that was formed to promote the family farm, local production, etc.. The group is now supplying a food co-op-- and the co-op is asking for more oproducts--- Guess what, they WANT lamb and goat!!!Thre is an ethnic market in the co-ops area, ALso, when my family had a huge get together, the caterer was interested in my choice of sheep breeds, so i now have, when i am ready, a 'customer' who only ocassionally is asked for a sheep or goat carcass.

    now, what about USDA inspected slaughter and packaging? I Know there are some "portable" facilities that people can buy or rent-- and I seem to have lost my website list of that type of stuff.. When i mentioned those facilities to the secretary of the group, he printed it i the newsletter, and now, the interest is growing, because USDA facilities are few and far between here, espcially when talking poultry!!
     
  16. Jan in CO

    Jan in CO Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Thanks for all the good ideas! Can't do the booth at the fair thing, as our fair has raised their price to over $1000 for a food vender, but I can continue to just sell lambs from the farm, and not worry about selling certain cuts to fancy restaurants. I will check into the ethnic ones, and see if they would be interested before I increase the flock size too much. Should be having lambs in about 2 weeks--can't wait! Hope this nice weather holds. Jan in Co