Correct branding and trademarking are a step towards easy market access, and a crucial step that commercialising farmers should focus on. This was the topic under discussion between Dawn Noemdoe and her guests at Food For Mzansi’s Gather to Grow Instagram live session.
Lisa Van Zuydam, senior associate at Adams and Adams a law firm specialising in trademarks, said in South Africa there is a Trademark Act which defines a trademark as a sign that can be represented graphically including a device, a name, a signature, a letter, a shape, configuration, pattern or a combination of these formats.
A sense of identity
“The primary role of the agricultural sector is to produce food, however, it is also important that there is a trademark. In doing that you will ensure that people can associate a particular good or produce with you as the source.
“That is why a trademark is relevant because if you produce goods such as potato or tomato and you want your product to land in the store, you will have to brand the product so that customers can know where it comes from,” she said.
Van Zuydam explained that farmers can have their brand on the side or front of the packaging so that consumers can associate a particular quality with their product. “The positive side about this is that once there is a known trademark, consumers then when they go back to the store, they will know what to look for purely based on the product,” she said.
She explained that the trade name is the number under which you are trading, and this identifies which farm the product comes from, and consumers can align the product with where it originally came from.
“Just like in the wine industry. If you see all those different labels, you will know which one you want by looking at the brand name. It is a precious asset that you can use to market your goods.
“Firstly, try to find something that is unique and so a farmer will need to do research. Your trademark can be a suggestion of the goods that you are using, like something that relates to the products and makes you stand out. A trademark can be coupled with logos or colours,” she added.
Market research is very critical
She advised that farmers should see what others are doing and then do something different so that they avoid copying other people, which can get them into hot water.
Founder of Avoport, Shandini Naidoo, added when it comes to identifying niche fresh produce or agro-processed goods, you must look at what the market is, what the supply and demand are, and then do things differently and do what consumers want.
“When you go to the national market space and there is space for niche products like peppers and mushrooms, these are the things you should pivot into. It’s easy to notice them and that is where smallholder farmers face challenges when it comes to the mass supply of large market spaces.
“The same principles are the same mindset you should have when identifying as a smaller holder farmer, the gaps and what is needed in the market, and the quickest way to do that is to approach your local store.”
According to Naidoo, the easiest hack is to go to the local big chain stores like Pick n Pay and other retailers and ask the manager what the quickest sale item is and how they work seasonally.
“That is actually how I started, [I] pretended to be a farmer and it is the only way to get information for your produce to be on the shelves,” she said.
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