During these unprecedented times, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) recognizes that it is not ‘business as usual’. We hope to provide some support and guidance to help you continue to sell and market your agricultural products.
Regardless of whether your business is considered an essential workplace, all businesses can continue to sell goods and services, so long as they do so through teleworking, online, telephone, and delivery. Some potential options are:
- Direct farm gate sales, using the above preventative measures.
- Online sales for farm-gate pick-up or delivery.
- Partner with other local businesses to offer a local box delivery.
- Partner with local restaurants who still offer food delivery services and takeout.
- If you have surplus food, consider donating to a local food bank or community food program and you may be able to claim an income tax credit.
What can you do to ensure people can buy at your business without the risk of spreading COVID-19?
- Set-up your operation so that people can maneuver the space using social distancing.
- Offer your products pre-packaged to reduce contact.
- Consider offering a space for handwashing or hand-sanitization.
- Provide self-serve freezers or other methods to reduce your need to be present, and sanitize all areas between customers.
- Do not allow customers to sample food or use reusable containers.
- Do not provide communal areas or seating to stay on site.
- Offer contactless payment through Apple Pay or other tap/touchless payment methods, e-Transfer, pre-purchasing online. If you do accept cash, ensure it is properly sanitized.
For marketing your organisation, make sure everyone knows about the following:
- When promoting your farm gate, encourage people to stay home if they are not feeling well.
- Encourage customers to pre-order so that their visit is as brief as possible.
- Provide a list of the health and safety measures you have in place, so that customers are more at ease visiting your farm.
- Tell your story! Many consumers want to support farmers during these difficult times.
- Promote the health benefits of your products. You are providing fresh, local food or agricultural products that are good for your customers health and well-being.
- Pivot your business model to focus on essential products instead of luxury items. Your product may also double as a health product, or there may be a related value-added product that could be useful during this time. For example, many distillers are using their resources to develop hand sanitizer, which is in short supply.
- Get creative! Use social media for giveaways, encourage your followers to ‘take the [insert product here] challenge’, promote a fun activity related to your product, or consider a charitable/social good promotional initiative. Many people are on social media and are looking for ways to help and support others and lift their spirits!