Value-added products give producers an opportunity to make extra money from their foods. Value is added to raw food products by adding labor, ingredients, processing or packaging, which allows producers to charge more for the final product. Consider the farmer who makes salsa from his tomatoes: someone will pay more for a jar of salsa than the actual cost of raw ingredients used to make that same jar of salsa. In another example, a hunter who processes deer meat can command higher prices for canned deer or jerkey than the same amount of meat in raw form.

When the Diné Policy Institute organized its first round of farmers markets during the summer of 2012, the first market included growers selling mostly food items in their basic form. “The first market, we had a lot of people selling tomatoes and onions,” says Dana Eldridge, policy analyst for the Diné Policy Institute. But at the second market, those same vendors began to sell salsas made from their homegrown products. “The more people in the community who understand these value-added benefits, the more economic opportunities exist for tribes,” says Eldridge.  

Value is Added in Five Ways:

  1. Creating new, innovative products (salsa from onions, tomatoes and peppers)
  2. Enhancing an existing product (processing/canning meat or smoking fish)
  3. Enhancing services (farm equipment company offering free maintenance)
  4. Creating brands and product identities (“Native grown on the ______Nation”)
  5. Developing unique customers experiences (pick your own fruit or corn maze)

How Value-Added Products Generate Income:

  • Increasing customer base by creating new/improved products
  • Receiving greater portion of the revenue from finished products by controlling more processing steps
  • Becoming more strategic/influential players in the marketplace by establishing greater presence

Value-Added Products:

  • Desserts and baked goods
  • Jams and jellies
  • Cured/smoked meats
  • Dried fruit
  • Chili wreaths

Value-Added Experiences:

  • Farm tour
  • Wagon rides
  • Craft or art demonstration
  • Canning or cooking demonstration
  • Pick your own

*Source: University of Arizona Cooperative Extension