Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Diversification Only Delivers If You Market Your Product

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Diversification Only Delivers If You Market Your Product

Article excerpt

Byline: FARMING ROBERT GIBSON robert.gibson@ncjmedia.co.uk

IN recent years more and more farmers have been looking at opportunities to add value to their farms, to maximise potential from on-farm resources and to diversify.

But diversification only succeeds if you are prepared to market your product, says a leading professional.

As a result we have seen a huge variety of businesses - from spas to simulated shoots, farm shops to farm butcheries, conference centres to wigwam villages and farmbased tourist attractions. Produce has been prepared, ice creams sold, and potatoes chipped.

Barbara Huddart, managing director of Glendale PR, has launched many farm-based enterprises, including some of the region's best known and instantly recognisable brands.

She also delivers a lecture on farm diversification marketing to agricultural students at Newcastle University and her message to businesses is clear: Don't expect business to come to you.

To ensure success for a diversi-fication enterprise, she said, farmers have to put as much effort and expertise into getting it exposed in the market place, as they do in the planning and production.

When Barbara started her own business it was at the same time that many farm businesses first started to diversify. Then the ideas they had were very often connected with accommodation, such as barn conversions and self-catering cottages.

Barbara said: "Coming from the country these people already knew about hospitality - that was the easy part - what many didn't understand was how to connect to the people who wanted to enjoy it. My task was to put them in touch with potential holidaymakers."

Barbara, whose business is based in Wooler, Northumberland, said the picture today is much less uniform.

"Many farmers are returning to their roots, and their diversification projects are focusing on supplying food products direct to the market, without the traditional manufacturer - wholesaler - retailer route. …

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