by Rachel Robinson
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the online food shopping trend. Combine that trend with the consumer focus on more locally grown and healthy food options, and farm to table restaurants, grocers and suppliers have found the sweet spot. By working with Ranch House Designs, producers nationwide are jumping in on the farm to table website craze.
According to survey results from Forager, more than 75 percent of respondents would be willing to pay up to 20 percent more for local food. The drivers behind the local movement include fresh produce and low carbon footprint.
Consuming more fresh, healthy produce helps 86 percent of survey respondents’ goal of eating healthier. In addition, only 27 percent of respondents are fully satisfied with their grocery store’s local food selection in 2020, and 93 percent said they would buy more local if it were available.
Many farms and ranches have seen this trend and risen to the challenge to provide more locally grown and produced food to consumers hungry for that local flavor.
Ranch House Designs founder, Rachel Cutrer, has emerged as a farm to table expert through her experience at RHD, combined with the creation of her own farm to table brand: Brahman Country Beef. Over the last two years, Rachel has worked with more than 1,000 producers to help provide consultation on direct sales of beef and creating a farm to table brand. RHD also offers the Farm to Table Boot Camp, where those interested in participating in direct to consumer sales can learn online at their own pace.
Upper Cut KC, a Ranch House Designs customer, is one example.
As farmers first, the owners recognized the need for local, good quality beef and started Upper Cut KC six years ago next month.
“I’ve grown up my whole life with our own beef in the freezer,” says Mariah Kinkade, Upper Cut KC owner.
“We’d go through our steaks first and have no place to go to get something just as good or better than what we could raise.”
Finding the local beef at the quality they wanted led to more than just supplying that quality beef. The connection to the farm and educating their consumers are important aspects of the Upper Cut KC business.
They also host farm-to-table dinners on their farm to bring 150 to 200 of their customers to their farm to see where they raise their cattle.
“The more you like someone, the more knowledgeable they are, the more you will buy from them,” Kinkade says.
“During our farm-to-table dinners, we show our customers our animals to make them feel comfortable about the beef they’re buying from us. It satisfies our customers’ need to know where their food comes from and feel closer to it.”
Farmers markets, local butcher shops and on-farm food retail are on the rise partly because of consumers wanting to understand and be closer to their food supply, but consumers need to know these local food options exist, as well as order the local food online in many cases.
Ranch House Designs has designed more than 50 websites for farms and ranches looking to take advantage of the local food movement.
The websites give background information that helps consumers feel comfortable with the food they are buying, and in many cases feature eCommerce to bring that local food to consumers searching for it.
Upper Cut KC is one of the website Ranch House Designs has put together for a local farm-to-table company.
“Our website is clean and inviting,” Kinkade says. “People buy with their eyes, and the website has given us an opportunity to show what we do.”
Rath Farms in Pennsylvania is another farm that saw the Farm-to-Table trend and jumped onboard in 2015.
“Farm-to-table has been one of the best things we’ve gotten into,” says Nick Rath, Rath Farms Sales and Marketing Manager, Public Relations.
“Customers are starting to demand better products than what they can get in the local grocery store, and they want them to actually be raised in their local community.”
Ranch House Designs had done a website for just their breeding, but in April this year, Rath says they wanted to update the website to reflect more of their Farm-to-Table concept.
“We wanted to position ourselves as a premium meat purveyor, and the website does that for us,” Rath says.
“Adding the e-commerce portion of the website has also increased demand of our beef products in addition to our smaller chicken and pork offerings and driven more phone calls.”
With the average metropolitan area in America only growing or raising less than 2 percent of the food it consumes, sometimes the local food movement must stretch a bit farther. That plus the rise of online grocery shopping during the pandemic has led to an increase in food ecommerce.
Adding an ecommerce element to farm-to-table websites opens up a whole new customer base that still wants to feel close to their food. It also feeds into the cultural expectation of instant gratification.
“We’ve been doing ecommerce on our website for about a month,” Kinkade says. “It’s great for the first-time customer and out-of-town shoppers. Shipping gives others the opportunity to access our products.”
Reach out to Ranch House Designs today to start your operation or business on the path to selling online or promoting your farm to table brand.