Value-Added Products Prove Helpful for More Income

Athens, GA |

It’s no secret that Georgia is home to some of the most recognizable culinary treats from peach ice cream to candies nuts and everything in between. These value-added products are not just beneficial for consumers’ taste buds, but also the farmer’s bottom line, as it provides yet another stream of income throughout the year.

“Farming can only take place during certain times of the year, but if you are a farmer and you have excess produce, say for example one thing I like to use is blueberries. So, consumers like to see a nice, big, juicy blueberry. Sometimes they’re not big and juicy. Sometimes they’re a little bit small. Sometimes they’re tart. So, now they have their fresh market. They have this waste product or excess product that they’re making into a value-added product, and that value added product can then be sold year-round and have a nice, steady stream of income for the farmer instead of relying on one time of a year having that fresh market,” says Kaitlyn Casulli, Extension Process Specialist.

That’s why the University of Georgia, thanks to a one point five-million-dollar grant through USDA, has launched the VIBE program, which provides aspiring entrepreneurs with access to business development resources both on and away the farm.

“We will provide one on one technical consultations with people. So, helping them think through their product and their process and then we also partner with a number of organizations both within and outside of the University of Georgia. Then, in the classroom and lab space, we do a bit of technical support here. So, measuring things like Ph and water activity for shelf stability and then, in the classroom we’ll be able to give workshops. So, inviting farmers in, value added producers out to University of Georgia and proving them with a larger group experience to collaborate with other farmers, learn from other farmers and also get the technical knowledge that we’re going to be proving them with in that workshop,” says Casulli.

With so many different factors to consider when starting up a new value-added venture, this program can be an invaluable tool for farmers when deciding what product to produce and the type of equipment that will be required.

“We would help them kind of spec out processing lines. So, if they want to say, freeze some produce or go into canning, we could help them spec out installing something in a current facility, help them find the appropriate equipment and scale to work at and with the Good Agriculture partnership, perhaps find them some funding and help them with their financial management aspects of starting up this value added processing. We’re hoping that with more advertising and more word of mouth spreading this program, that we’ll be able to get the word out and get farmers to capitalize on the services,” says Casulli.

By: Damon Jones