As I drive down Indiana and Ohio highways, I see acres of corn and soybeans. All the farmers are doing their best to get the most productivity out of their fields. They all strive to be the most productive and deliver a consistent product for the same price. It works for commodities. Corn, soybeans, pork, beef, crude oil, steel are all commodities that require consistent quality, sent to market in the most efficient way. There isn’t much negotiation on price. The only way to make more money is to take advantage of economies of scale.
Even so, once in a while, I see a sign on the highway that says, Fresh Sweet Corn. or Locally Grown Cantaloupe. Farmers markets tout local produce. I am willing to pay a little more to get fresh fruits and vegetables. When I see the face of the farmer, I am assured that what I am putting in my body was grown by a caring person. A former commodity becomes an attractive, niche market.
Farmers don’t need to advertise their corn and soybeans. The market price is what you get. You can take it or store the grain until the price hopefully rises. But when a local farmer sells fresh produce, he or she can advertise a better quality product that was carefully grown locally.
Marketing commodities are fruitless. Marketing something with a personal touch is when the magic happens.