You Don’t Sell Food, You Sell a Story – Here’s How

Writing food product descriptions

There are two types of farmers: Those who love answering questions and those who don’t.

At farmer’s markets, customers flock to enthusiastic and chatty farmers and wait in line, even when prices are higher.

You’re not selling food, you’re selling the story that goes with it.

Why is this? And how to write food product descriptions your customers will love?

Let’s take a look.

If customers feel your excitement about life, farming and local food, they’re going to feel confident that they’re getting top quality.

But if you don’t care, why should they?

It’s all about trust

The more a customer knows your food, the more they’ll love it (and the more they’ll buy)! If the story is true and well told, they might fall in love before they even taste it.

Think about wine.

Most people’s taste buds aren’t refined enough to taste the difference between a $10 bottle and $35 bottle. But knowing that one comes from an obscure little vineyard makes a huge difference. Suppose the winemakers take their craft so seriously that they hand-carve barrels from their own oak trees?

Knowing this, our brains will tell our taste buds “this tastes seriously good”. But without the story in a blind test, a normal person might not taste any difference.

So if you grow food with skill and love, share your story and let your customers fall in love with your food and your farm.

How to tell a good story

“But I’m no writer!”, you might be thinking.

Good. Me neither.

You’re customers don’t want prose or fancy words. They want interesting facts and something unique to talk about. You don’t have to write a book, but you’re food product descriptions inform and inspire.

Here’s an easy and fun way to get started:

Do a farm tour with a friend and ask them to write down what’s interesting. Too many people in cities work indoors and daydream about an idyllic life in the countryside. It’s not hard to invoke their imagination.

I did markets when I lived in New Zealand. One of our best sellers was casimiroa (aka the white sapote). We were often asked what casimiroa is. But people weren’t really interested in “a fruit native to the mountains of Ecuador”.

However sales went through the roof when I answered “Oh my gosh, are you in for a treat! It’s known as the vanilla pudding fruit, but some think it tastes more like ice cream. Either way it’s a dream come true because kids love it and it’s healthy!”

“But my food isn’t exotic and sexy!”

Ok, you got me. That was an easy one. But the same applies to potatoes too, and I don’t think the potato has ever been accused of being exotic, or sexy.

“Our heritage and biodynamically grown red potatoes grow in a little patch in the market garden behind our house.

We mulch them heavily with straw to reduce weeding, stimulate soil micro-organisms and feed our vibrant healthy soils. They grow strong and tall and love being planted next to their companions the bean and the Brussel sprout.

In June, we harvest some as our famous Mini Summer Potatoes, and the rest during late summer and autumn. They’re especially tasty served as potato salad or just with a little sea salt and butter.”

I hammered that out in two minutes and I’m sure you could do even better.

Communicating well is the only way they’ll understand and love your food as much as you.

Writing tips for food product descriptions

For those of us who aren’t professional writers, here are some suggestions:

  • Keep paragraphs super short. Don’t use words a 5th grader can’t understand.
  • Latin plant names only confuse customers.
  • Write like you speak at the farmer’s market – informally.
  • Customers love little details.
  • Write the most important stuff first. Many people won’t read the whole thing.
  • Focus on what makes you unique and different to everybody else.

We are what we eat…

Educate your customers by engaging them. Allow them to built a relationship with you.

Local food is about trust and caring about the quality of the raw materials that become our flesh and bones.

We are what we eat, quite literally. So let your customers know “who they really are”.

Flickr Creative Commons Image via jeffrey james pacres.

Published by

Fraser Bliss

Founder of Farmwell, speaker, lover of fresh local food.