Potato and onion harvest

I’m usually reticent to give away very much of our product. Oh sure, I’ll donate the occasional package for promotions that our farmers markets do. But by and large I find that other forms of marketing work better – and cost us less – than giving away meat. Last summer, for example, round steaks weren’t moving. So one market day I typed up a bunch of recipe cards for my favorite round steak recipe and sold something like a dozen packages of round steak!

However we’ve come to the last month of market, and what we have on hand is a whole bunch of pork roasts and hams. Well, “whole bunch” is a relative term I guess. We have about 12 or 15 of each left. Not that many, really, but at the rate these 2 particular cuts have sold over the summer I was getting concerned we wouldn’t get rid of them. Sometimes as the popular cuts sell out people will turn to the less popular cuts. But so far they hadn’t turned to the hams and pork roasts. Could be because these are our 2 highest priced cuts of pork. But I suspected something else was going on.

We’ve had interesting conversations over the summer with customers, regarding their dislike for pork. The topic of “has the pork industry shot themselves in the pocketbook” could be an entire post in and of itself. Of course there are those that don’t eat pork for religious reasons. But there’s an unbelievable number of people who used to eat pork but quit, because they either hate the way pork in the grocery stores tastes these days or they’re apalled at the modern confinement system in which most hogs are raised. Even when we explain that we raise our pork for taste, not leanness, or explain that we don’t raise hogs in confinement it’s still been difficult to convince people to give it a try.

So last Friday I went to market armed with a pork roast and a ham. I took my mom along to help hand out samples. And we sold half the pork roasts, and a third of the hams we brought along. Success!

So sometimes giving away your product is worth it. But another observation I made was that giving out samples gets people up to your market stand. And there’s something about having people at your market stand that draws other people to your market stand. Curiosity, maybe. Safety in numbers, maybe. Competition, maybe. Those poeple might be getting a good thing and I’m missing out!

This can be difficult for meat sellers. The vegetable vendors can pile up the visual eye candy to draw people in. Even if we could pile up stacks of frozen meat on our table, it wouldn’t be very eye-catching. I’ve seen meat vendors with portable, glass-topped freezers they can roll out to the front of their market stand so that customers can see the packages of meat inside. That helps, but our processor wraps our packages in butcher wrap so that setup wouldn’t help us. Samples get people lining up at your table.

I won’t be sampling regularly – I’m still not wanting to give too much product away for free. But I think last week’s market taught me that there’s definitely a time and place for sampling in my marketing arsenal.

3 years ago:

Lookin’ for love

Eating a pig



One hundred!

2 years ago:


1 year ago:

Hope comes in litters of 9

Barn still life

A quick hello from COS

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8 Responses to Sampling

  1. Seriously great idea! We just now have pork available, but I've heard that the roasts (pork & beef) & hams can be the hardest to sell.There was an interesting article in the "Stockman's Grassfarmer" from Burgundy Beef up around Ft. Worth, Texas. They are a very successful grass-fed farm that was also having trouble selling their roasts. So, they decided to pre-cook and then sell them. And it worked like a champ. They currently sell out of roasts. Of course you would have to have a commercial kitchen, but nonetheless, it was brilliant.I think people are afraid to spend so much on a roast or ham because the fear they might mess it up and quite honestly don't know what to do with it. The recipe cards were an awesome idea as well! I will have to keep that one in mind too!Great post. Thanks for sharing.

  2. You know, I used to be petrified of hams, roasts and soup bones – but after your posts last winter on cooking those things – now we run out of roasts and hams pretty quick when we get meat done. My biggest thing was always with working – I didn’t have time to cook it – but have since figured out ways to cook it – wether halfway one night and finish it up the next or whatever it takes. Several times this past summer I would put a roast in the oven, dump bbq sauce on it – instant yummy sandwiches! Which of course the roast pan was pretty well licked clean…..Great ideas though – hope you typed up your ham steak and cabbage recipe – Todd and the kids are still asking for that one (and we’ve long since been out of ham steaks).Kris

  3. farm mom says:

    Oh, you tease!! So wishing I was closer to you right now!! LOL! You know, I used to think I didn’t like pork. Back when we used to eat CAFO meat I rarely got any, and certain not the larger cuts. What was the point, we didn’t really like it. Now that we’ve had pasture raised organic pork, it is a completely different story. It has become our absolute favorite. Every member of my family enjoys every type of cut. In fact, we are talking about forgoing beef altogether and just purchase 2 whole hogs next year!! Two! We love it that much. I also appreciate how I can use the sausage and bacon in ways that the meat becomes more of a side or condiment to our meals and not so much the focus. And I really appreciate the reusable nature of the pork fat. Yeah….the difference between CAFO pork and the kind you raise is amazing. Bet you’re wishing we lived closer now too?! 😉

  4. becky says:

    At our farmer’s market they had samples of this smoked ham something or other. I tried it and it was so good I bought some. Of course then I got home and thought “what am I going to do with all this meat!!”So yeah, it works.Also Pork roasts are my new favorite thing! On the grill, in the crockpot, whatever. So good! I make cuban sandwiches with the leftovers, which use pork and ham!

  5. Becky – Cuban sandwiches with pork and ham?!? Sounds yummy. I hope you’ll come back and share the recipe!

  6. I’m not a big meat eater, and the only pork I’ve found to like is BBQ pork sandwiches! hahaI’d dfeintely go for the samples and would be more apt to buy if I saw some simple doable recipes, too.Great ideas for marketing. I wish I lived closer as I’m not dreaming about that pork of yours :)~Lisa

  7. Sheesh! Sorry for the typo.I meant to say “I’m NOW dreaming of your pork”:PLisa

  8. Becky says:

    Kelli,What was the round steak recipie? I never know what to do with them.

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