My marketing class case study is for a local organic grain business named Greenwillow Grains. I chose them as they have great products and I would like to see them be more successful.
Greenwillow Grains started thinking about growing hard red wheat near Brownsville in 2003. The first planting and harvest did not produce much. But it proved the concept that red wheat could be grown locally. If the product could be grown here what are the opportunities for selling locally? Most people don’t buy raw grain and turn it into flour themselves, so somebody must change the grain into flour. Once they bought the milling machines they could turn grain into flour and they had a product they could market.
Besides being locally owned and using locally sourced organic grains for their products, are there any other things that set them apart from the competition? The 2 main competitors for this food group are Bob’s red mill (Portland) and Grain Millers (Eugene). Neither of these options buy locally grown grain exclusively from local farmers as they don’t have the capacity to buy locally. Greenwillow Grains does have this capacity.
Another thing that set Greenwillow Grains apart are in keeping with traditional methods of processing the grains into flour. The mills are all stone mills, not the typical steel mills of today. That and the the distinctive cloth bags that the finished flours are sold in. These bags are made in the US, so another (probably small) business is kept alive thanks to Greenwillow grains.
As to marketing questions (such as how to improve sales?), it isn’t clear what approach they might take. Some questions to ask though: would growing in size have a negative effect on the product quality? Currently, Greenwillow Grains grinds all flour orders on receipt. Should Green Willow become larger, would this change? Are there enough organic grain farms in the Willamette valley to provide the raw material (grains) to keep this a locally owned, locally sourced product?