Perfecting the Package: The Importance of Labeling Farm Products
by Miriah Reynolds
Often it’s the label that sells a product the first time; it’s the product that sells it the second. Font, color,
and specific words might be enough to strike the customer’s attention. Whether its cheese, soap, eggs, milk, or just handing out a business card, labeling plays an important role in small farm success. With my experience marketing our farm’s goat milk products and years of working in retail, I would like to share some techniques to creating the perfect packaging.
On our dairy goat farm in Rhode Island, our family makes delicious goat milk cheeses, beautiful soaps, and other beauty products. Each product is made with high quality ingredients and lots of love. We put so much effort into each piece that customers line up at farmers markets to purchase the goodness. For years we struggled with packaging. Often wondering if the labels were giving our product the justice it deserved. Primarily, up until that point, we sold our products by sampling.
Our cheese labels consisted of handwritten sharpie on the plastic lids. When my brothers and I were little, there was always spelling errors that needed to be relabeled, costing money and time. As the years went by and the business grew, hand writing hundreds of containers of cheese became tedious and looked sloppy. It was time for an upgrade, so we could venture into the retail corporate world we later realized we did not want to be in.
The hardest part in labeling a product is deciding who the customer base is going to be. Do the products target a specific group of people? Do most of the customers have preferences in the products and food that they purchase? Knowing the target market is very important. Add appropriate labels such as organic, GMO free, natural, local, homemade, or locally grown are important features. (Be sure to label in accordance with state laws) Most importantly make sure the farm name is clear and easily identifiable.
Sometimes people do not remember a name, but look for a certain logo. For us, it is our bright white Saanen goat that sits front and center on our cheese label. The farm logo should be consistent in color throughout all the labels, that way customers can recognize it easily. Try and make labels appear professional but not commercial. Nothing fancy but not boring. “A photo says a thousand words” is true here. The bright white goat in the center of our label shows the animals are clean, her alertness shows good health and her caring eyes prove she is loved. On a local level, which that is our goal to keep food local, our customers know her name from the articles written and farmer market meet and greet our goat days.
To keep costs down it’s wise to use standard sizes for jars, labels, boxes, or other packaging. That way labels can be printed on a home printer if necessary. Packaging should offer advertising as well as protection from handling. Retail stores and shipping products is simpler if the packaging allows stacking. When labeling out goat milk soap we have gone through dozens of changes. We have our goat milk products in retail stores as well as selling them at the farmers markets. Keep in mind that the packaging should enhance the product and ‘show off’ its farm fresh benefits. Limit the amount of attachments such as ribbon or anything hanging from the product as it will be torn off during transportation.
Creating the perfect packaging and labels for local farm products is actually exciting when you accomplish it. Incorporate the love and dedication that your products have into the packaging and the results will be amazing. Wrap it up and sell it!
Miriah Reynolds is a member of the Reynolds Barn Family. She grew up on her family’s dairy goat farm and now attends Montana State University seeking a degree in Agricultural Business. Miriah is also a contributing writer of Dairy Goat Journal. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and thereynoldsbarn.com.