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New Local Flavor Program

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December 16, 2019

Announcer: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension service.

Amy Meyers: Today, we're talking about the new Local Flavor program. Hello, I'm Amy Myers and welcome to Farm and Family. Today, we're speaking with Dr. James Barnes, Mississippi State University associate Extension professor. Dr. Barnes, Mississippi State University Extension has launched the Local Flavor program. Why do we need the Local Flavor program?

Dr. Barnes: Hi, Amy. I really appreciate being on the show. First of all, let's talk about what local food is because Local Flavor is all about helping promote local foods and our local foods industry in Mississippi. USDA defines local food as the direct or intermediated marketing of food products to consumers, which is in a close geographic area. So we think of local, we may think of just within 10 miles or 50 miles, but the idea is that to promote more local consumption of those goods that are produced, fruits and vegetables mainly, lots of local meats, the same way.

Amy Meyers: Local foods don't just stimulate our personal physical health, but they also stimulate our economy.

Dr. Barnes: Yeah. They can be good for our economy because what you have is an import substitution that you won't have. If we produce it locally and consume locally, that can be good for our economy. So we're not importing things in, we're consuming it locally. There's lots of savings, lots of benefits to the local community.

Amy Meyers: And who would want to be part of this Local Flavor program?

Dr. Barnes: Well, there are a lot of folks in the MSU Extension network that are apart of this. But the main focus right now for the program is on food businesses. That's who we really want to be a part of the program.

Amy Meyers: Others can be apart of certain modules or certain sessions because there are some sessions in this program that do focus on small business marketing no matter what kind of business you have. So those who want to sharpen their marketing skills, no matter what kind of small business they have, they can be part of some of these modules.

Dr. Barnes: Yeah, they really can. I mean, there's some things that are universal to any type of business, and so we would love to have people take part in. We're going to have lots of things for them as well.

Amy Meyers: Okay, so what does each module cover?

Dr. Barnes: What we've got coming up is an online course, and the name of the course for these food businesses is Seven Ways You Can Quickly Grow Your Food Business. So we've organized the course around seven challenges that we think food businesses face every day. There are seven of them, Amy. Okay. The first one is how to launch a food business. That's a big deal. It's really complicated. We've got experts going to be talking about how you do that. The second piece is a marketing plan. Do they have a good marketing plan? It's not just the four P's. I mean, there's a lot more to it. We're going to teach you how to do that.

The other part of that is social media. It's part of the marketing plan, but it's such a big component, we've split it out to be its own mini-course almost. We were going to be covering Instagram and Facebook, how to launch and grow your business based on those two platforms. And then, also, we're going to be looking at how do you price your food products? How do you that so that you can make profits? Because if you're not going to be profitable, Amy, you're not going to be sustainable and we don't want that. We want them to be sustainable, so we're going to be covering pricing and profits.

Next, the fifth one is how to grow local-food brand awareness. Now, This goes back to how do you get awareness in your local community. We're going to talk about how you put on a farm to table event and how you really boost your awareness locally, so that's part of it too. We've got experts talking about that. Sixth, competition and value proposition development. Before you go into business, you've got to evaluate the competition. We're going to teach you a framework to help you see the competition, see where your niche is going to be at, how you could do that, and then teach you how to develop a good value proposition.

You may be asking, "Why does that matter?" Well, because if you can't tell a consumer who's buying your product how it makes their life better very, very quickly, they're going to move on to somebody who does. So we're going to teach you how to develop that. And finally, if you're a food business in the state of Mississippi, this last part is all for you. We're going to be talking about local food policies and regulations. So you want to be checking that out, keeping up to date on all those things.

Amy Meyers: Great. Now how do we find or participate in Mississippi State University Extension's Local Flavor program?

Dr. Barnes: The best way, the easiest way is to go to Google, look for Mississippi State University Extension Local Flavor. You'll go there, you'll see lots of things that we're doing. There's a online webinar series that we've already done. It's there as well. But again, if you have any questions, you can always email me at

Amy Meyers: Okay, and folks can also look at the PDF, or the notes section of each already provided webinar, and also the YouTube link, and also find out about future modules that are coming up, those seven modules that you talked about.

Dr. Barnes: Yeah, Seven Ways to Grow Your Food Business Quickly. We're going to have that ready in 2020, first of the year.

Amy Meyers: Thank you so much. Today, we've been speaking with Dr. James Barnes, Extension associate professor. I'm Amy Myers, and this has been Farm and Family. Have a great day.

Announcer: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension service.

Department: Agricultural Economics

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