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How to Talk About Your High Prices Without Feeling Guilty

The mindset shift Joel Salatin taught me about pricing your products as “craft food” instead of as a commodity.

For the second time in less than a year, my husband and I hosted Joel Salatin at our home so we could teach “The Profitable Farm Workshop.”

No matter how many times I hear Joel speak, I’m inspired to be a better farmer and steward of the land. Whenever I spend time with Joel, I always have so many takeaways.

Joel Salatin on Champoeg Creamery farm with me and my husband

Today, I want to share the mindset shift I had when Joel explained that our farms sell “craft food.”

Just like craft beer, it’s different, unique and only sold in “local” or small breweries. Craft beer is also sold with a premium price tag — for a reason.

It’s not a commodity.

You see where I’m going with this…

Your farm products are not a commodity.

Joel considers them “craft foods” and should have the high price tag to go along with it.

Brilliant, Joel!

This was a huge mindset shift for me and I hope it is for you too. We have to get away from the mindset that we sell a commodity. We don’t.

We sell handcrafted, often times homemade foods that you can’t find anywhere else but in our own backyards. Your products are made with love and one-of-a-kind.

They’re never a commodity and never to be sold as such.

You should never get these two things (craft food vs. commodity) confused. If you sell craft food you must charge craft food prices. And your marketing must reflex that as well.

As farmers, we often (unknowingly) succumb to the pressure of producing craft food, but sell at commodity prices. That’s a quick trip to bankruptcy if you ask me. And many of us know someone that has experienced this lesson the hard way!

When someone picks up your tomato, a pound of beef, or jar of milk and asks, “Why is this so much more money than the grocery store?”

Stop yourself from going down the guilt trip path and recognize that you’re crossing over into the commodity mindset.

You must stand with confidence in the craft food you produce and be firm in your pricing and profit margins.

Joel gave me the language to use with my customers when they price compare too. Instead of defending and explaining why your prices are so high, you can simply say:

“Great question, Beth! We decided early on to raise handcrafted beef (or milk, eggs, veggies, etc.) so our costs are much higher than commodity products you find in the store. You won’t find this level of high-quality, handcrafted items anywhere else — only on our farm.”

HOW TO PRICE YOUR PRODUCTS FOR PROFIT

I see this happen all the time with new farmers — you’re at the farmer’s market and you start looking around at what your neighbors are charging.

You get back to your booth and you price your products at the same or similar prices (give or take a few pennies).

This is a huge mistake! It’s common so don’t beat yourself up…

As a small, craft food farmer, you have to factor in all your costs plus a 35%+/- profit margin. Yes, this means your prices will probably be double that of the local grocery store.

And that’s ok. They should be.

If you’re passionate about feeding your family and community real food, it’s imperative you charge higher prices to stay in business and become a profitable farm.

If you’re a rural farm and you want to know how to get people to drive an hour or more to your farm, check it out this post here.

And if you want a FREE email course on pricing your products for profit. Click here for access to the training.

The course includes a pricing calculator so you’ll know exactly what you should be charging to stay in business for years to come.

Now it’s your turn. In the comments, tell me what you’re currently charging for your craft food products and what you should be charging instead.

{ 9 comments… add one }
  • Lyn Brown July 12, 2018, 5:42 am

    My primary product is breeding stock for 3 rare and endangered breeds of sheep. After studying your free courses and reading (only half through so far) your book. I have realized that I needed to raise my prices and did so. My rams are now $600 and ewes are $400. I do offer a discount to members of the respective registries because it means that the people are serious about their purchase and want these breeds to survive. I have struggled for years, selling at just above sale barn prices. This year I am almost sold out of registerable stock and have a waiting list for ewes.

    • Charlotte July 12, 2018, 9:08 am

      Love hearing this!! Another farming becoming sustainable 🙂 Thanks so much for reading my material and trusting and trying!! Keep in touch on your progress 🙂

      -Charlotte

  • Julie July 12, 2018, 6:20 am

    $4/ for pastured turkeys (not organic). We are struggling to get them sold. We didn’t have this issue the last 2 years. They sold quickly then at $4.50/lb. We got amazing feedback last year on flavor, texture etc. So I am not sure what is going on. We decided to freeze them and try again close to Thanksgiving. Part of the issue is Facebook keeps removing my ads because I am selling an animal (so I worded it better as meat etc). Craigslist brought in a couple orders of several turkeys each which promptly backed out on me the next day. We only have about 15 turkeys to get sold so not a huge deal, but we sure would like to free up the freezer space and get our investment back out of them. When we raised meat chickens our price was $3/lb but it should have been higher I think. Those sold like crazy!

    • Charlotte July 12, 2018, 9:10 am

      Hi Julie, thanks for your comment.

      Do you have your email marketing in place? FB is definitely not the place to sell – people go there for engagement, connection, not to be sold to, so it won’t work to build up a loyal customer base.

      Your email marketing will be the foundation of your strategy – we have free courses and if you’re not in the Profitable Farm on FB you may want to join there as well – I have lots of training videos on the topic.

      Would love to have you sold out before Thanksgiving!! It’s possible, hang in there and start studying 🙂

      Thanks for being here,

      Charlotte

  • Shawna Barr July 12, 2018, 10:27 am

    Wow. That is a great mindset shift Charlotte. I love the “craft food” language.

    Question–do you wait for customers to bring up the price issue before you go there? Even after several years of selling, I still sometimes find myself just “sensing” the sticker shock and wanting to explain. How do you handle that?

    • Charlotte July 12, 2018, 10:38 am

      Hi Shawna! How are you?? I think of you guys often!!

      Sometimes I, like you, sense the sticker shock so I’ve learned to be upfront about it.

      For instance, if I sense they will be shocked, I’ll say, “just to warn you, our milk is relatively expensive – due to Oregon’s very limiting raw milk law our expenses are high so our milk reflects that. It’s $15/half gallon – and I totally understand that won’t work for everyone. I wish we could produce it less expensively so we could sell it cheaper. If that works for you, I’d love to help you!” Then let them decide.

      This way there’s no awkward moment when they finally build up the courage to ask the price!

      Milk is really the only thing they have sticker shock on. They don’t even look at the price of meat/eggs.

      Take care,

      -Charlotte

  • Lauren July 12, 2018, 1:03 pm

    We sell bulk orders only to our retail customers. Prices based on take-home weight.
    50 lbs $450. ($9/lb)
    Mixed Quarter (~100 lbs). $8.50/lb
    Halves (~200 lbs). $8.25/lb
    Whole (~400 lbs). $8.00/lb
    We only “handle” the 50 lb orders, splitting a quarter in 1/2. Processor boxes & labels the others per order.

  • Teddi July 14, 2018, 9:51 am

    I really like this post! I love the mindset shift presented here. Just sent out my turkey email this morning and this article really helped me to put a positive spin on the high quality and high price of our turkeys. I was able to take Joel’s language about the prices and make it my own. I’m feeling really confident in the email I just sent and it’s because of this article. Thank you!

  • Lilly July 18, 2018, 7:40 am

    We sell currently Pastured poultry by the package our chicken breast packs go for $18 dollars and our legs go for $8 dollars. I Think this is right about where we should be for those types of products and I’ve only had one person say we were priced high.

    We also sell rabbit fryers for $15/ea. I thought this price was high but after talking to people I think I need to reevaluate my prices, found out restaruants in the area are giving $13/ pd. If I have my costs figured right for the rabbits my price reflects a built in 4 dollar profit after costs, so I’m not sure if I’m missing something or their costs are that much different?

    Our quail eggs go for $6 a dozen. No one even blinks at the price and we have a profit margin built in. When we get ready for quail meat we will be charging 6-8 dollars per bird depending on how the costs shake out.

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