Comparison of agricultural marketing success across multiple platforms

Award Information
Agency: Department of Agriculture
Branch: N/A
Contract: 2012-00301
Agency Tracking Number: 2012-00301
Amount: $100,000.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2012
Solicitation Year: 2012
Solicitation Topic Code: 8.12
Solicitation Number: USDA-NIFA-SBIR-003497
Small Business Information
3501 LUCIA CRST, Madison, WI, 53705-3311
DUNS: 616680349
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: Y
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Heather Hilleren
 (608) 395-4990
Business Contact
 Heather Hilleren
Title: President
Phone: (608) 395-4990
Research Institution
Each week, in total, 338 small and mid-sized farms ($1,000-500,000 in revenue) go out of business despite the undeniable demand for local food. This proposal will work with a state department of agriculture to research the viability of real-time price sheet marketing, as compared to static information, utilizing the various mediums of print, web, and mobile applications to determine the most effective medium and channel. The success of this project will lead to more integrated local food markets, thereby increasing the efficiency of the US food system, reducing waste and transportation costs, and improving economic opportunities to farmers in outlying rural areas. As all products are farm identified throughout the process, tractability is maintained, increasing our nation's food safety. This project will increase food security, by identifying a flexible, more accessible method for farmers and buyers to connect. In addition, by streamlining the way that buyers (individuals, buying clubs, and institutional buyers) obtain locally grown food, the project may increase the ability of vulnerable populations (both rural and urban) to add fresh produce to their diets. Finally, this project will reduce food miles, and thus help decrease the production of gases that contribute to global warming. The project has four technical objectives. (1) Incorporate real-time price sheets and ordering into the MN Grown website. State Departments of Agriculture and organizations, such as MN Grown, have invested tens, often hundreds, of thousands of dollars into marketing their state brand. While the technology for real-time inventory and price sheets exists, states cannot jettison their current branding. Using an API, this technology can be brought into the state's own website, eliminating the cost of developing, implementing, and supporting the technology on their own. (2) Create a mobile marketing presence for MN Grown farm's static information. Mobile applications are quickly becoming the browser of choice for individuals who do not work at an office desk. Mobile phones do not require a cable connection, and can cost less than purchasing broadband. MN Grown farm information will be launched on both iPhone and Android mobile applications. (3) Evaluate the impact of static versus dynamic information on improving farmers' ability to effectively and efficiently connect with local buyers, and comparing the mediums of web, and mobile to achieve it. We will measure and compare customer activity across web and mobile devices, as well conducting a pre- and post- implementation survey assess whether enhanced information increases both farmers' ability to connect with local buyers and which channel led to the highest number of sales. Further, we will investigate farmers' use patterns affected the size of their buyer base.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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