Subscription models have become a transformative strategy for farms and businesses in the food industry, creating a dynamic avenue to diversify income streams while enhancing the customer experience with greater personalization and convenience.
What makes subscriptions compelling is their adaptability. There is no one way to implement them, making them a good fit for both small and large farms. They could, and should, be structured in a way that works for your products and business goals, as well as in meeting the needs and habits of your customers.
Benefits of starting a subscription
- More predictable revenue and cash on hand
Subscriptions tend to require payment upfront, which can help offset costs earlier. Knowing how many subscribers you have can allow you to plan for a certain amount of reliable income.
- Increases in customer loyalty
With a subscription, you have more frequent customer interaction and opportunities to build relationships. They also tend to include more customization and personalization, which people love.
- It’s easier to upsell
Because you already have an engaged audience, customers are more likely to purchase new products and services if they’re happy with their subscription.
If you’re wondering how to set up a subscription service, Shopify has a detailed guide.
To offer inspiration, here are a few subscriptions currently offered by dairy farms in New England.
The Modern Milkman, owned and operated by Oakridge Dairy in Ellington, Connecticut, uses a weekly subscription model to provide fresh dairy products to towns across Connecticut. Subscribers can choose from half, full, or family-sized shares and customize the products they receive each week. Subscriptions are conveniently delivered directly to customers’ doorsteps with milk provided in classic glass bottles.
In addition to providing Oakridge Dairy’s milk products, The Modern Milkman partners with more than two dozen other local food producers to include their products as part of the weekly subscription. This includes yogurt, butter, eggs, bread, granola, bagels, cheese, cookies, coffee, ground beef, and more.
By collaborating with other businesses, The Modern Milkman has increased the convenience and value of their dairy subscription service while also helping drive sales for their local food economy. The business continues to expand through Connecticut, as well as into Massachusetts.
As a dairy, beef, and vegetable farm, Whittier Farms in Sutton, Massachusetts, uses its various products to provide customers with comprehensive subscription options. It starts with a produce farm share available for ten weeks through the summer and six weeks for the fall. Members can choose a standard or half-sized share and a flexible share that allows them to select the specific weeks they want to pick up from the farm.
Members can choose to enhance their produce shares with add-on subscriptions featuring other farm products. One of these additional shares includes a variety of Cabot and Boar’s Head cheeses. There are also meat shares, pantry shares, and a Best of Whittier’s share that offers a range of meats, homemade items, and goods from their farm store. Those not interested in purchasing an ongoing subscription can choose one of the many gift boxes, such as the Cabot Family Pack, which includes multiple cuts of cheese, yogurt, and butter.
Whittier Farms meets customers’ additional needs by providing several customizations and creatively incorporating new options into the traditional produce share model.
Fairmont Farm in East Montpelier, Vermont, offers monthly Farm to Table bags in their market store to help keep their products feeling fresh and creative. Subscribers receive a Fairmont Market reusable bag filled with various curated meats and Cabot products. What’s unique about their approach is that they promote the bags by structuring them around dairy-filled recipes. Each month, recipes are picked out for their subscribers, and the items in the bag are the key ingredients for cooking them.
In a recent bag, for instance, there was breakfast sausage and cheddar cheese for cooking breakfast biscuits; ground beef, sour cream, and mozzarella for making an enchilada casserole; and stew meat for a Mongolian beef dish. Past months have featured ingredients and recipes for soups, tacos, baked goods, quiche, and more. The approach keeps the products fresh while inspiring subscribers to incorporate dairy in new ways.
The bags are available for pickup at the Fairmont Market, and while a subscription is not required for purchase, subscribers receive a discount when choosing either the six-month or year-long subscription options.
Jasper Hill Farm
Cheese lovers will appreciate The Cheese Club from Jasper Hill Farm in Greensboro, Vermont. The Club features monthly boxes with three or more Jasper Hill cheeses and three food pairings, cheese tools, or merchandise items from their shop. Boxes allow subscribers a sneak peek at new products, exclusive seasonal and limited-release cheeses, and seasonally-themed pairings that are not regularly available.
Each month, club members receive an email that details that month’s selection of items. A recent box was crafted around the theme of a fondue night and included four kinds of cheeses, pickled onions, and bresaola. While it’s possible to sign up for just one month or as many months as one would like, subscribing to three months upfront offers a discount.
In addition to the monthly boxes, Jasper Hill has taken a streamlined approach to its eCommerce strategy by creating cheese collection boxes available in various sizes. Through these box options, Jasper Hill crafts themes and inspires customers to enjoy their cheeses for a special occasion or simply a fun evening at home with friends.