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UBC Collaboration on Food Industry Research

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Market research is a crucial component to building any food business. Sharing our research expertise, Farm Food Drink recently collaborated with the University of British Columbia (UBC) to conduct two research projects with the Masters of Food and Research Economics program.

Enhancing the employability of students is a top priority of this UBC program. By introducing students to industrial partners, they can experience the food sector and its economics at the ground level. Projects like this can help them prepare to enter the work force with confident abilities and skills.

The Team

Farm Food Drink’s research specialist, Salik Hasan Aslam, led two program participants through two independent research topics.

Rebecca Frank – Edible Seaweed – what is the business potential for BC coastal kelp harvesting

Hui Miao – Digital Marketing for Farmers Markets Vendors – how best to attract and engage buyers

To help with the technical aspects of the survey, a UBC faculty supervisor and a student rounded out the team.

Rebecca’s Seaweed Research

Market research pulls from many sources depending on what a business is looking for. For the edible seaweed project, it’s evident that there is access to seaweed along BCs massive shoreline, but the consumer demand for local seaweed is unknown.

Rebecca started with a literature review followed by interviews with industry players and seafood retailers in BC and Washington State to get more tangible insights. With the collaboration of the Pacific Seaweed Industry Association, we also gained access to seaweed processors and other industry experts.

A survey was conducted to quantify and validate consumer awareness of seaweed products, and the demand based on price points. Although the survey didn’t provide statistically significant results, it has been labeled as Preliminary Data and can be a good foundation to build from for future research projects. The preliminary data suggests that consumers are open to trying seaweed products but there is currently a lack of awareness regarding the range of available products.

Besides a full research report, Rebecca has created a comprehensive one-page document to summarize findings. The next research project could look at processor capacity, government regulations, and local supply chains.

Photo by Kindel Media:

Hui’s Digital Marketing Research

After some initial Literature Review, face-to-face onsite interviews is where Hui started her Primary Research at nine Farmer’s Markets in the Vancouver and Richmond area. Speaking with both vendors and consumers resulted in the basis for a survey to a bigger audience. Topics of data collection included:

  • Demographic profiles
  • Digital channels used
  • Preference for content style (e.g. video, article, newsletter)
  • Marketing messages

To support our ongoing collaboration with Vancouver Farmers Markets (VFM), Hui’s research project highlighted more in depth understanding of both consumer demographic and psychographic characteristics beyond what was previously known.

What became apparent was how vendors struggle with navigating the dynamic digital marketing world, and how they could better use it to their advantage. This research project can help direct VFM members and Market Vendors on their approach to digital marketing strategies and how best they can measure them for better results.

Mission Accomplished

Market Research is important to make your business and marketing planning more accurate and effective. It can validate things you already know, uncover things you never considered, and give you knowledge to make informed decisions about different aspects of your business.

These UBC projects were a result of collaborations with many entities in the BC Food Industry. Two completely different topics and objectives, yet similar processes in gathering primary and secondary data to form a conclusion on findings.

Farm Food Drink has a relationship with these industry players and many others as part of our commitment to “do good work with good people doing good things”. It was a pleasure to support Rebecca and Hui in their research efforts, and we wish them much success in their education and careers.

What Do You Need to Research?

Do you need to better understand consumer behaviour, target markets, competitive landscape, or distribution channels? Contact Farm Food Drink and our Market Research team so you can fine-tune your business approach for better results.

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