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June 3, 2013
The Market Opportunities for Regional Entrepreneurs (MORE) project, an initiative organized by students and faculty from Northwest Missouri State University’s departments of Agricultural Sciences and Business, is entering its next phase.
MORE is designed to help agriculture-related businesses find new ways to add value to existing meat products. The goal of the project is to develop markets that could increase the profitability of businesses while retaining or creating jobs in the all phases of the meat supply chain.
Last fall, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded $37,340 in support of the project, which is an interdisciplinary effort aimed at supporting regional meat producers interested in making their products more accessible to local consumers. In addition to the grant from the USDA, MORE was made possible by support from KCP&L, Northwest Missouri State University and its Department of Agricultural Sciences, and Northwest Missouri Enterprise Facilitation.
MORE hosted focus groups earlier this year in northwest Missouri and southwest Iowa to identify gaps that may be curbing producers’ ability to deliver their products to consumers. As part of these focus groups, input was gathered from individuals throughout the meat supply chain including producers, processors, retailers, restaurants and consumers. Follow-up focus groups included dissemination of the information from the initial meetings and discussions of potential solutions to supply chain weaknesses.
After analyzing information from the focus group findings, several important topics were identified as candidates for additional research. As a result, surveys will be conducted by a Northwest research team to gain additional insights into consumer preferences. Northwest students will administer surveys at local and regional events to collect a wide range of opinions on several aspects of local meat.
The program was developed under the leadership of Lurinda Gilliland, instructor of agricultural business; Dr. Benjamin Blackford, assistant professor of management; and Annette Weeks, of Northwest Missouri Enterprise Facilitation, who, along with several Northwest Missouri Enterprise Facilitation board members, was actively involved in the organization and development of the focus groups.
"The project has been very successful so far,” Blackford said. “We have gathered a lot of information from a wide variety of viewpoints. We thank all of the participants in the focus groups for their insights. We also thank our sponsors and everyone else involved for helping make the project a success.”
The project also has benefitted from collaboration with Dr. Chi Lo Lim, associate professor of management; Dr. Deb Toomey, assistant professor of marketing; Dr. Callie Walker, assistant professor of animal science; Rod Barr, instructor of agricultural education; and Dr. Naveen Musunuru, assistant professor of agricultural business.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
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