Portrait Regional Product Marketing Hoeksche Waard

Local produce, fresh-from-the-farm, small-scale artisan producers, farmers who process products on the premises: the trend 'local, traditional, regional' is everywhere. Top chefs redefine local cuisine, magazines are full of tips, and Dutch retail formats as ‘Rechtstreex’, ‘Marqt’ and ‘LandMarkt’ are doing very well. Nevertheless, the successful development and marketing of a (new) product, from idea to shelf, is not as easy as it seems. Farmers are primarily producers, and not every farmer is a successful marketer.

How do I make my product successful in the market? How to find a market for my product, or even better, how do I create a market of my own? These are questions that many producers of (local) products are struggling with. The focus of the masterclass was on the process after developing the product. Aspects like packaging, marketing and distribution in practice often intertwine for the start-up entrepreneur. The masterclass hosted a wide variety of businesses, from large to small, from local to international and even super-niche marketing.

Lessons learned from the masterclass
  1. Do not necessarily look for the traditional approach to marketing with large marketing budgets, but always look for free publicity. A personal approach, the people behind the product, is crucial.
  2. Look for a self-selling product. Key words are: real, true, transparent and recognizable. Believe in the special qualities of your product, and make sure you communicate this well.
  3. Selling is a very different business than producing a product. Make sure you enable the right people for the sale.
  4. Have, especially in the beginning, no illusions about volumes. You're not directly going to earn a lot with it.
  5. Unfortunately for the romantic image of a small business, to survive in our current economy growth is necessary. So, always look for new markets.
  6. Make sure you are part of relevant networks. Networks with conscious consumers like the Youth Food Movement and Slow Food, or other networks with 'foodies', festivals and events.

The Hoeksche Waard is an agricultural production area near Rotterdam that produces for an international market. Sustainable agricultural production has been a topic of interest here for several decades. This has resulted in a platform of entrepreneurs in the Hoeksche Waard with clearly described targets. The farmers from the Hoeksche Waard want to redefine the relationship between producer and consumer in an innovative way. It is important to get to know the urban consumers better and to find out which products to offer, where to sell them and how to organise the sale. Many farmers have individually already found their way to the city. How can we join forces to take that extra step? The farmers are proud of their Hoeksche Waard and also want to realise a reverse flow of citizens to the Hoeksche Waard so they know where and how their food is produced. All four systems innovation dimensions (product, process, policy, social) occur in the Hoeksche Waard. There is a multitude of distinctive products, such as: the Hoeksche Rooie, Hoeksche Chips and potato fired Vodka. Under the banner of Hvodka precise nutrient application is made possible by highly detailed soil sampling. Together with GPS-controlled tractors, nutrient loss is greatly reduced. There are plans for sugar beet processing to raw sugar on private property in order to recycle the organic waste stream (process). Conventional agriculture in the Hoeksche Waard gives great attention to field margins management (EU policy). These field margins increasingly fulfil a role in limiting the use of pesticides. Through companies like Rechtstreex, local produce from Hoeksche Waard is sold in the city (social).