Focus group participants are being sought to participate in an ongoing effort to develop improved marketing strategies for regionally produced beef.
Two sets of focus groups in each of six northwest Missouri communities will meet in January, February and March in order to "identify gaps that may be curbing the ability of local producers and consumers to connect," according to information released by Northwest Missouri State University, which is spearheading the initiative.
Back in September, the U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded Northwest a $37,000 Rural Business Enterprise Grant in support of a beef industry development program known as Market Opportunities for Regional Entrepreneurs.
The program aims to help regional meat producers make their products more accessible to local consumers and while encouraging the development of emerging businesses in rural areas.
Known as MORE — Market Opportunities for Regional Entrepreneurs — the Northwest program was developed by Lurinda Gilliland, an agricultural sciences instructor, and Benjamin Blackford, assistant professor of management, in cooperation with other faculty members specializing in agriculture, marketing and business.
The goal is help area beef producers and other agriculture-related businesses find new ways to add value to existing products while developing local and regional markets that increase profitability and create jobs.
At the core of the effort are the focus groups, which will be charged with collecting information on technical, operational and financial factors affecting regional demand for beef and "value-added" meat products.
Northwest expects the ultimate beneficiaries of the program to include small and startup producers seeking niche opportunities for farm-raised beef such as restaurants, premium meat markets and individual consumers.
Focus groups meetings are planned for the following dates and locations:
∙Stanberry (Wabash Junction), Jan. 21 and March 4.
∙Rock Port (Black Iron Grill), Jan. 22 and March 5.
∙St. Joseph/Savannah (NWMSU St. Joseph Center), Jan 24 and March 7.
∙Maryville (Countryside Bistro), Jan. 31 and March 14.
∙Chillicothe (Nico'Z), Jan. 29 and March 12.
∙Clarinda, Iowa (J. Bruner's), Feb. 7 and March 19.
Anyone interested in participating in one of the 12 focus group sessions should call (660) 562-1282 or email email@example.com.