UMCA News Release
Missouri Exchange celebrates first year of growth, change,
all while bringing agricultural product sellers and buyers together
April 1, 2008
COLUMBIA, Mo. - What a busy first year it's been.
The University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry and Grow Native!'s Missouri Exchange Web site is marking its first year with rapid growth. Since this time last year, the site has grown to 350 members, received up to 22,000 hits per month and added new product categories and features, including a "Tip of the Week."
Missouri Exchange is an online marketplace where Missouri agricultural and value-added producers can market their products - for free. The Web site, available at www.missouriexchange.com, specializes in niche agricultural products, such as native plants, herbs, decorative and specialty wood products, meat, eggs, cheese and other products for which markets may not already be in place locally. The site showcases Missouri`s diverse agricultural products, links sellers to the market, helps locate sources for hard-to-find products and educates consumers and producers. The site also creates opportunities for buying locally, which benefits the environment and the economy.
Potential buyers can reduce search time to find products that meet their standards and specifications. Sellers also reduce marketing costs by increasing the exposure of their business, advertising their products and increasing markets at no additional cost to them.
"We have listened to Web site users throughout this first year, adding more product categories and subcategories to better fit the goods producers are looking to sell or consumers would like to buy," said Web site administrator Ina Cernusca, research associate and marketing specialist with the Center for Agroforestry. "Through the new `Tip of the Week' and `Did you Know?' sections, users are encouraged to get more involved in the Web site by sending tips and interesting information about the products they sell. The site is becoming more and more interactive and user friendly, and we are excited about the direction in which it is going."
A September 2007 survey showed 27 percent of registered users visit the site several times a month or more, with 31 percent spending more than 10 minutes at the site. Members were generally satisfied with the Web site and 92 percent would recommend it to a friend.
Missouri Exchange also works to educate both producers and sellers about products, some of which might not be familiar to the general public. Uses for the products, typical market value and quality standards are included for the products featured.
Also in the past year, The MU Center for Agroforestry and Grow Native! have sponsored a workshop to explain and promote using the Web site; more such workshops are planned. Grow Native! is a joint program of the Missouri Department of Conservation and Missouri Department of Agriculture.
"Our first year has been a great learning and growth experience and we look forward to many more years of helping Missouri agricultural producers find markets for their products," Cernusca said.
For more information about the site, contact Ina Cernusca at 573-882-4848 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senior Information Specialist
Center for Agroforestry
University of Missouri