Find local organic food

Use COABC's searchable database to find local organic producers, processors and distributors that sell certified organic food. To find BC organic producers, processors, and distributors certified by certification bodies that are not members of the COABC, use their searchable databases. You can find links to these certification bodies on the CFIA-ISO accredited certification body list.

Marketing Tips and Downloadable Resources

The following marketing tips and resources are to help you compete in the growing organic marketplace, and secure a place for your products with consumers.

Marketing to consumers

  • Give your customer what they want, when they want it and how they want it.
  • Be credible.
    Do what you say you are going to do, and when you say you’re going to do it.
  • Appearance counts.
    Perception is reality, and the reality is that people do judge a book by its cover. This applies to you, your products, your market presence, your farm and equipment.
  • Be a resource.
    No matter what your customer needs, try to find it for them - even if it has nothing to do with your business.
  • Speak your customers' language.
    If you use jargon your customers can't understand, they won't buy from you.
  • Use testimonials from satisfied customers
    Include testimonials on your website, and marketing materials. Remember to ask for permission to use their name or images.
  • Return phone calls promptly.
    So many people don't return calls, you automatically look good when you do.
  • Offer samples of your products at markets and stalls.
    Tasting often translates into a desire to buy.
  • Connect with a charity or sponsor an event.
    Providing your product at a local event that is relevant to your target market gets your name and brand known in the community.
  • Make presentations or teach a class.
    Classes allow you to demonstrate your skills and advertise your products whilst contributing your knowledge to the community.
  • Use the coabc checkmark logo or canada organic logo or logo(s) if you qualify.
    Promote organic program logo(s) on your product labels and marketing materials to strengthen your brand, and increase consumer awareness and confidence in the program(s).
  • Participate in organic sector promotions and campaigns such as the Think Before You Eat campaign to celebrate your commitment to the organic movement, to strengthen your brand, and to help educate consumers on the benefits of local organic food.

Farmers' Markets display tips

Customers can be overwhelmed by the selection of merchandise presented to them at farmers’ markets. Good presentation can grab and hold their attention!

Try these tips:

  • Good lighting - well lit produce attracts customers attention and shows off rich colours of fresh produce. Natural light is always best but be ready to supplement with overhead lighting if needed.
  • Use display fixtures that are attractive, and experiment with levels to create the sense of abundance.
  • Use colour - on signs, back drops, display bins. Add splashes of complementary colours like red and orange to catch the consumer's eye. Use flags or pendants to create movement and attract attention.
  • Hand written signs look great if they are neat and consistent - consider professional sign writers, or practice first using templates or stencils to do-it-yourself.
  • Create a uniform look for your stall and staff - have t-shirts with your logo, or wear the same coloured aprons. Make sure signs, packaging and shelving create a character, ‘brand’ or atmosphere for your business.
  • Use the coabc checkmark logo or canada organic logo logo(s) if you qualify on your product labels and marketing materials.
  • Participate in organic sector brand campaigns
    Prominently display Think Before You Eat marketing materials etc during Organic Week and beyond to educate consumers about the benefits of local organic food.

Marketing to wholesalers and retailers

If you want to expand your market from farmer’s markets to wholesalers/retailers, you have to play by the rules:

  • Nurture business relationships.
    Approaching a wholesaler or retailer is like beginning a long-term relationship. Establish a product sales cycle that benefits both parties.
  • Try to anticipate the variables.
    For instance, if an order is changed, make sure you and the customer have agreed on a way to accommodate the change in payments and schedules.
  • Always be upfront about terms with customers and staff.
    Make sure the customer and everyone who works with and/or for you know your policies with respect to payment, supply of product, returns or rejections, and any promotions or special exceptions.
  • Do your research.
    Find out how the buyer wants the product labeled, packaged and documented. A bar code in the wrong place can jeopardize your whole marketing effort.
  • Always have your documentation in order and at hand.
    Ensure that your invoices, bills of lading, price lists etc reflect your professionalism and are accessible when needed.
  • Organic Certification
    Ensure that your organic certification is up-to-date and allows you to sell in the markets serviced by the wholesaler/retailer. For example, if your organic product will be shipped and sold across provincial borders, it must be ISO certified. For more information on organic certification, go to COAB’s certification information page.
  • Educate potential retail/wholesale customers about BC Certified Organic or Canada Organic certified products.
    You may have to educate your potential customers about your products and your chosen certification program.
  • Consider having a customer advisory panel.
  • This can consist of three or four customers that you regularly check in with. By knowing your customers' wants and needs can you successfully grow your business.
  • Give your customer what they want, when they want it and how they want it.
  • Give back to your best customers.
    Show your appreciation of their customer loyalty and participate in their company events, charity initiatives, or joint sponsorship opportunities.
  • Identify the critical link between you and your customers.
    Ask yourself, "Why did the customers buy from me?" and use the answer as the base of your client retention program.
  • Keep track of all persons that you deal with, especially the decision-maker.
    Make personal contact with all of them, no matter how large the staff.
  • Don't allow your competitors to finish a task for you.
    Tie up "loose ends" and make sure that you fulfill your customers' needs or have a mutually agreed plan in place to do so rather than allowing competitors to edge their way in.
  • Consider working with your competitors.
    If you know a potential customer wants to deal in a volume greater than you can provide, consider working with a fellow producer. Co-ops are another option.
  • Provide samples of your products for in-store product demonstrations
    Tasting often translates into a desire to buy.
  • Cross-merchandise with a complementary or related business.
    Team-up and promote each other’s products to increase mutual benefits.
  • Use the coabc checkmark logo or canada organic logo logo(s) if you qualify on your product labels and marketing materials.
  • Encourage your wholesaler/retailer to participate in organic sector promotions
    Customize point of sale material promoting your products and the organic brand in collaboration with your wholesale/retail customers. They will appreciate your wiliness to work within the parameters of their in-store/POS programs.