Do you sell blemished crops at a discount or not at all?

steve22802(7a VA)January 23, 2009

This will be my first season selling at a farmers market so I'm trying to gather as much info as I can before the season starts. The topic I'm bring up here is what do you do with blemished produce? Do you take it to market and sell it at a discount along side the "Grade A" produce or do you just leave it home to eat yourself or compost? Do you find that farmers market shoppers are more willing to accept minor blemishes than wholesalers would be or do they demand perfection too?

Thanks,

Steve

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norcalconifers

I have only tried this with plants. We have 2 markets a year where all we bring are plants that are less than stellar. We sell them at our cost just to move them out. Folks seem to apprciate the bargin slaes. You will need to make sure your food crop is stellar, your reputation will set you apart, one way, or the other.
You can donate your blemished produce to the local food bank, there is typically someone at our markets who 'glean' for the food bank. You can help out folks this way, and feel good about your blemished food at least being eaten, yes?
Steven

    Bookmark   January 24, 2009 at 12:08PM
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jacqueinthegorge(USDA 8 / Sunset 5)

If people near you are getting into backyard chickens, maybe you could sell mixed bags of blemished-overaged produce as chicken supplements. I am always looking for discounted tired produce (including fruit) in the supermarkets. The chickens like it just fine!

    Bookmark   January 25, 2009 at 7:58PM
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kydaylilylady(z6 KY)

Depends upon what it is. Here blemished tomatoes sell in box lots as canners.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2009 at 12:19PM
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steve22802(7a VA)

kydaylilylady, how much of a discount per pound do the box lots go for?

Thanks,
Steve

    Bookmark   January 26, 2009 at 2:10PM
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kydaylilylady(z6 KY)

Depending upon what part of the season they'll sell boxes that weigh between 25-30 lbs for $6-$12. I think they're giving them away but that's just me. I use most of my seconds for salsa. They just go to market in a different form! They'll also sell box lots of green tomatoes late in the season for $10-$12 a box for folks to make relish.

Janet

    Bookmark   January 28, 2009 at 11:22AM
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ekgrows

Normally, the blemished fruits are the only ones we get to eat, as all the nice looking ones go to market. The only thing about selling blemished produce at discounts is that people MAY start preferring and or expecting it - just because it is cheaper, leaving you with your unsold picture-perfect produce to take back home. Personally, I would not offer anything except your best produce the first year. Establish yourself, and get to know your market. If you have a client specifically ask about damaged / blemished goods, that's another story.
We have restaurants requesting all of our blemished tomatoes for sauce making, so that may be an option. The chicken idea is good too - they like almost everything! Some food banks may be picky about the produce - there is one by us that only wants the good looking stuff, while another will take pretty much anything.

Good Luck!

    Bookmark   February 2, 2009 at 4:16PM
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bagardens (Ohio, Zone 5b)

I agree with ekgrows. I only sell my best produce. Anything that may not be perfect I keep myself or we know lots of people from restaurants and markets that would gladly take any of our blemished vegetables and what we have left after market.

There are other growers at our market that would sell blemished vegetables and ones that are not as fresh as ours. So we leave that up to them. We like the idea of people getting to know and remember us for our beautiful fresh picked produce.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2009 at 9:14PM
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nancedar(z7NC)

If you have not-so-perfect produce at a reduced price, the regular customers have you pegged as the "cheap" place to go to. When all you have is the Grade A then they won't buy, because they will wait for less/cheaper. My less-than-perfect go to the compost heap or to the canning pot. I want my customers to think that everything I grow is perfect and expect them to buy at the premium price. It is all perception, not reality. They have no clue that I, their Premium Vendor, would have less-than-perfect veggies.

Nancy the nancedar

    Bookmark   February 21, 2009 at 9:25PM
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bigjim54

I too am starting a market garden, and I agree that selling blemished items is not a good idea, as a retired meat cutter the same principle applies to a fresh meat counter as well, once custermors get used to the idea of buying reduced itemes, in small markets you can have a very hard time getting to buy the fresh.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2009 at 5:10PM
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steve22802(7a VA)

Thanks for all the opinions. I guess I'll plan on eating or freezing as much blemished produce as I can use myself and then just composting the rest. Or I may try donating the B grade veggies to our local food pantry if they are willing to accept slightly blemished produce (but not spoiled of course.) Perhaps I could even get a tax deduction from the donations, that would be a nice bonus. :) Has anyone already figured out how to get a tax deduction for donated produce?

    Bookmark   February 23, 2009 at 8:26PM
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hanselmanfarms

I trade my blemishes to a fellow marketer that has pigs. And YES I tell my customers that "Daisy" or whatever the pigs name is, gets any damaged/blemished. When the fellow marketer gets blemishes that they won't sell, I get some. They have fruit trees, I have veggies. Trades out well and the pig is happy also, she gets fat/sassy and has wonderful babies.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2009 at 8:37AM
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