BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – As people and retailers seek ways to procure food during the coronavirus shut down, as well as on down the road when its over, the LSU AgCenter has found a way to help.
By using a website called the MarketMaker, people can find fresh seafood, produce and a range of other items though connecting buyers with Louisiana producers and farmers to obtain fresh seafood, produce and a range of other items.
LSU AgCenter extension associate Alessandro Holzapfel says he wants to bring attention to the online resource and help producers in need of additional outlets to find customers.
The website address for MarketMaker is https://la.foodmarketmaker.com. A buy-and-sell forum also is available at https://la.foodmarketmaker.com/marketplace.
“The neat thing about MarketMaker is that it is a multiplier,” Holzapfel said. “Any profiles can be shared over and over again in many ways.”
For example, Louisiana is home to many unique products such as mirliton and mayhaw, which aren’t available in many other states.
“If a farmer is selling such products in the buy and sell forum, then not only is that being sent out via email notification to other registered users, but also allows people in Virginia looking for mayhaw jams and jellies to discover the Louisiana farmers offering those products.”
MarketMaker allows users to sell directly or indirectly to consumers, either by making contact and selling straight to the customer or by selling their product via a wholesaler.
MarketMaker also has a web-based app at https://whatsinseasonapp.com. The app allows users to navigate the key features of MarketMaker on their smartphone rather than through the website on a smaller screen.
“Additionally, it allows users to search for products based on their location, utilizing the phone’s GPS capability,” Holzapfel said. “We plan to have the capability of introducing an online marketplace to MarketMaker users by the beginning of May.”
That would allow them to also conduct actual transactions via the website, he said.
Currently, the website doesn’t allow commercial transactions but allows users to connect with one another and discuss anything leading up to the actual transaction.
“Many farmers have stated that they receive about three or four customer inquiries a week from MarketMaker,” he said. “This doesn’t seem like a lot, but it is additional visibility that they did not have before.”
The website is also frequented and used by larger businesses such as Rouses Markets and Capitol City Produce, which have used MarketMaker to find local farmers to source various products.
Even local school districts have profiles in which they state what products they are looking for.
For additional information about MarketMaker, visit https://la.foodmarketmaker.com or https://lsuagcenter.com/LouisianaFarmToSchool or email MarketMaker@agcenter.lsu.edu.