A plum

NZ Lifestyle Block - - THE GOOD LIFE -

Margie Cham­bers has an or­chard of 400 dam­son plums and the whole 3.5 tonne crop is har­vested in just one mad week in Fe­bru­ary. These are unique plums, ined­i­ble fresh but the per­fect pre­serv­ing fruit due to their very high pectin lev­els. Margie and her team then cook them up into care­fully tested gourmet prod­ucts which are sold in su­per­mar­kets and spe­cial­ist food stores na­tion­wide.

“We had an ex­ist­ing block of land and were al­ready grow­ing ap­ples. To di­ver­sify a lit­tle, we started grow­ing dam­son plums com­mer­cially.

“To be­gin we un­der­took a lot of re­search to un­der­stand what was and wasn’t avail­able in the mar­ket­place, and where our prod­ucts could or would fit. When we de­cided to pro­duce prod­ucts from our dam­son plums, we ran a series of test mar­kets on the prod­uct and the prospec­tive logo. The feed­back we re­ceived was in­valu­able.

“Be­fore you start, build­ing a pric­ing model to in­clude all your costs (in­clud­ing your time) and to un­der­stand the true cost of pro­duc­tion is im­por­tant. La­belling and pack­ag­ing is just as ex­pen­sive as mak­ing the prod­uct.”

Other things Margie says to think about be­fore you start are: • who is likely to buy the prod­uct? • where can you sell it? • what mar­gin will re­tail­ers re­quire? • what price will cus­tomers be pre­pared to pay? • who will dis­trib­ute the prod­uct on your be­half? • who will un­der­take the sales and mar­ket­ing ac­tiv­ity?

“We spoke with other pro­duc­ers who pro­vided a lot of good in­for­ma­tion and we vis­ited many web­sites: the IRD web­site, the Min­istry of Busi­ness, In­no­va­tion and Em­ploy­ment, food­ etc.

“Lastly, be­fore we ac­tu­ally started, we thought through how the busi­ness would ac­tu­ally work on a day-to-day ba­sis, like fi­nance, bud­gets, prod­uct de­vel­op­ment, web­site sales etc.”

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