Zambian farmers; marketing; produce; supply

Marketing tips: Continuity of fresh produce supply is essential

Forget the high prices or the low prices – concentrate on building your average price by supplying top quality all the time, regardless of the market supply situation.

Ask yourself this question, “Why is Coca Cola so successful?” There must be numerous answers, but one thing is for sure; you’ll always find Coke in any store, at any time. That is true continuity of supply and it’s one of the main ingredients for building a brand and for successful marketing. Let’s see how this plays out on a market.


A buyer develops a loyalty to certain brands or farmer names that he knows always supply good quality products. He might reach a stage when he trusts the supplier so much that he no longer has to sell his produce but simply take the order.

And usually the buyer will pay a premium for that product because he has faith in it. He knows that tomorrow there will be more of the same quality.

A buyer needs to be sure he will have that brand available on a regular basis because he doesn’t want to disappoint his customers or see them going to the opposition to buy their fruit and veggies. When he can carry top-quality products on his shelves all the time he builds customer loyalty, and that gives him a good business.

When the market is in an oversupply situation, it’s the farmers who supply good quality consistently that sell their products. Just because the prices are down, it doesn’t mean the buyer doesn’t want your product.

He still needs the best in his store and as long as your product is on the market he’ll support you. Of course, prices will go down, but not as low as for other suppliers who don’t provide the quality or have the continuity.

Buyers soon recognise which farmers they can trust and which ones only appear on the market floor when prices are going up. And, like elephants, buyers have good memories!


If you keep good records – and you should if you’re a serious farmer – then you’ll be able to show at the end of the season what your average price was and how much money you made. If your quality’s right and you’ve supplied consistently, I challenge you to find a better source of income.

Next time you visit a market, look at who the predominant farmers or brands on the floor are. Ask the market agents or the buyers about those farmers and I bet you’ll get the same answer every time – they supply top quality, consistently.

Those successful farmers know that by building their average they end up getting top prices for the season. It’s not rocket science – just good business sense.


  • It’s difficult for a small farmer to maintain sufficient volumes throughout the season but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try your best.
  • You may have to concentrate on one market and build a sound reputation there.
  • If your quality is right and the buyers see you consistently on the floor, they’ll buy your products.
  • Another solution would be to combine with one or two other farmers under one brand – as long as you all produce good quality, consistently.
  • If you want to be successful in marketing fresh fruit and vegetables you have to start by getting the quality and consistency of supply right.
  • Do that, and the rest will follow.

Also read:
Essential steps to better fresh produce prices

Branding your fresh produce can give you the edge

  • This article was written by Michael Cordes and first appeared in Farming SA.

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