Pennsylvania MarketMaker: A new tool to connect food buyers and sellers

Posted: February 23, 2010

Penn State Extension is partnering with several organizations to launch Pennsylvania MarketMaker, an online tool to connect buyer and sellers within the food industry. The tool provides access to free, in-depth marketing information to help farm and food business owners find markets for their products throughout Pennsylvania and other participating states.

Pennsylvania MarketMaker also helps those businesses who wish to buy locally-produced foods to do so. Registration and use is completely free of charge.

MarketMaker Can Work For You

Pennsylvania MarketMaker will provide users with a rich source of demographic and business data to help buyers and sellers find each other. Here’s what users will be able to do with Pennsylvania MarketMaker:

  • Access demographic profiles of target markets – MarketMaker incorporates a map-based tool to help users assess several key demographic characteristics within a state. This functionality is very useful for those targeting markets by income level, household type (children or not, for example), race/ethnicity, etc.
  • Locate buyers and sellers – All businesses within the food industry are eligible to be included in MarketMaker. Using a map-based tool, a seller (farmer, wholesaler, etc.) can search for some other business that may be interested in their product. This may be a retailer, processor, etc. Likewise, a buyer can seek out products that meet their needs. MarketMaker will provide a two-way street for buying and selling food products within Pennsylvania.
  • Connect with thousands of buyers and sellers quickly – The Buy & Sell Forum in MarketMaker makes it possible to place an ad that is immediately viewable by any site user. These often generate a lot of traffic. For example, on June 7 of this year, a farm in Texas posted that they wanted to purchase grains for cattle feed. That post was viewed almost 8,000 times within 3 weeks. Likewise, a post indicating farm-fresh eggs for sale was posted on June 23 and received over 6,400 views within 48 hours.

There are a number of online tools that farmers can use to sell products. Most of those tools are designed to provide an online presence for farmers should consumers want to find locally- produced foods. MarketMaker is different in that its main audience is not consumers, but rather other buyers in the food industry such as wholesalers, brokers, retailers, processors, and restaurants. Of course, consumers may use the system and find local farm markets, farmers’ markets, or other venues.

Another strength is that MarketMaker serves as a fantastic market research tool. Savvy farmers and other direct marketers can learn a lot about the businesses and consumers within the target geographic region. Because all businesses may develop their own profiles, a seller can get more information than simply what might be listed in a phone book, for example. This helps the farmer (or other seller) to develop a targeted marketing program.

Beyond Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania MarketMaker is part of a growing national network of MarketMaker sites. Currently, there are 13 live MarketMaker sites with three others (including Pennsylvania’s) in development. With this strength in numbers, the national MarketMaker system is being promoted to national restaurant, grocery, and other retail/wholesale associations. This promotion will benefit our producers who choose to register their businesses. It’s important to note that not only can anyone in Pennsylvania find your business in MarketMaker, businesses in other states can too! Searches can be performed across the entire system, meaning that you could generate sales to several other states if you are registered in MarketMaker. Additionally, the Buy & Sell Forum is not limited to individual states. Anyone can use those tools.

Learn More

To better understand MarketMaker’s functionality, you may want to visit one or more state sites. For a demo, see the tutorial.

Register Today

Remember, registration is free of charge. (In fact, any use of MarketMaker is free of charge.) If this is something that can benefit your business, take a few minutes to register today.

Thanks to Our Partners

Pennsylvania MarketMaker is supported by a large number of organizations within Pennsylvania. These partners believe in MarketMaker’s potential to help their members and other farm/food producers in Pennsylvania. Thanks to the following for working alongside Penn State in this effort.

  • Fair Food
  • Farm to City
  • Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture
  • Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture
  • Pennsylvania Farm Bureau
  • Pennsylvania Retail Farm Market Association
  • Pennsylvania Vegetable Growers Association

Contact Information

Jeffrey Hyde, Ph.D.
  • Associate Director of Programs
Phone: 814-865-5666