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Marketing specialty crops can be one of the largest challenges producers face. Challenges, however, can also create marketing opportunities and profits for producers. This directory is intended to provide producers with a list of known buyers for various specialty crops. Many specialty crops have smaller sized markets with additional quality or packaging considerations. Before producing specialty crops, producers will want to consider the following:
Quality & Packaging Specifications
A number of specialty crops are produced for the edible market. Producers will find that quality specifications for edible products are more stringent than those for other commodities such as wheat or corn. In addition, many buyers of specialty crops have additional packaging or cleaning requirements. Therefore, producers may have to have access to cleaning and bagging equipment.
Due to the scale of some specialty crop markets and other unique requirements, producers are advised to secure a production contract prior to planting specialty crops. Although contracts are highly recommended, some markets such as oilseed sunflowers are sufficiently developed that producers can comfortable grow sunflowers without signing a production contract prior to planting the crop. Some sunflower buyers will also offer forward contracts for production, similar to other commodities. Dry edible beans offer another situation where contracting is typically not an option. Dry edible beans are usually purchased on the spot market based on grade. Producers ship a sample to the buyer and are then advised whether or not the crop will be accepted and pricing terms.
Producers should also consider secondary markets for specialty crops. For example, if a load of black beans does not meet quality specifications due to seed coat damage or the amount of splits, what other markets exist? In the case of black beans, producers would need to look into the secondary “splits” market that will typically yield one-half of the revenues.
The costs of transporting specialty crops can actually be a positive or negative from a marketing perspective. If the specialty crop being produced is near the consumer base but a significant distance from the traditional production areas, the producer may gain a transportation differential and receive a higher price for their specialty crop. On the other hand, producers of specialty crops that are a long distance from a delivery point (crushing plants) or the end-consumers will face a price disadvantage.
Although there are a number of additional considerations when marketing specialty crops, the profit potential of many specialty crops are higher than traditional commodities. The companies listed in this directory have previously purchased specialty crops and provide some initial contacts for producers. Listing of a particular company in this directory should not be considered an endorsement of that company, not should this list of buyers be considered all-inclusive. Specialty crop buyers are urged to contact the Jefferson Institute for listing in this directory.
For suggestions on direct marketing your products, visit our Direct Marketing Options for Missouri Farmers web page.