Value-Added Products


Value-Added Products and Enterprises

Direct marketing and value-added products are two of the best strategies farmers can employ to improve net profitability. Value-added products can open new markets, enhance the public's appreciation for the farm, and extend the marketing season.

Value-added processing offers farmers the potential to capture a larger share of the food dollar. The farmer's share of the consumer's food shopping dollar has decreased from 46 percent in 1913 to just fewer than 20 percent in 2006, according to the USDA Economic Research Service. Why? Consumers buy more "ready-to-eat" or "ready-to-cook" food while farmers generally produce and market raw agricultural commodities.

Value-added products are defined by USDA as having:

  • A change in the physical state or form of the product (such as milling wheat into flour or making strawberries into jam).
  • The production of a product in a manner that enhances its value (such as organically produced products).
  • The physical segregation of an agricultural commodity or product in a manner that results in the enhancement of the value of that commodity or product (such as an identity preserved marketing system).

Unfortunately, there is no simple blueprint to follow that applies to everyone for value-added. The resources listed on this site can assist you in the process of identifying, selecting, managing, monitoring, and growing a value-added enterprise.

Explore the value-added sections on Meats and Poultry, Dairy, Acidified Foods and Cottage Industry.


  • Commercial Freezer Storage Units (PDF)
    Spec sheets on several commercial freezer storage units from True Food Service and Arctic Air.

  • Food Processing Resource Directory (November 2013)
    By Ginger S. Myers, Extension Specialist, Marketing. This directory is a great resource for all your Value-Added Processing needs. Resources include listings of agencies, commercial supplies, display manufacturers, equipment, food brokers, farmer’s market supplies, packaging materials, trade associations and many others.

  • Keys to Success in Value-Added Agriculture
    By Holly Born, NCAT Agiculture Specialist @NCAT 2001 IP172
    This publication presents, largely in the farmers’ own words, important lessons they learned in adding value to their farm products and marketing directly to consumers. The keys to their success in value-added agriculture include high quality, good record-keeping, planning and evaluation, perseverance, focus, and building long-term relationships with customers. (posted 4/5/13)

On the Web

  • Agricultural Marketing Resource Center
    An electronic, national resource for producers interested in value-added agriculture. (posted 3/13/13)

  • Food Safety is the gateway to federal food safety information provided by government agencies. (posted 3/13/13)

  • Processing and Selling Value Added Food Products in Maryland
    A list of regulations for processing and selling value-added food products in Maryland from the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) and Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH). (posted 3/3/13, updated 6/22/16)

  • Processing For Profits  - An Assessment tool and guide for small-scale on-farm food processors
    By Ginger S. Myers, Extension Specialist, Marketing. This publication addresses product development, manufacturing, understanding the food safety system, labeling, acidified food, FAQ’s about Maryland’s food regulations, specific Maryland processed farm products, business planning, and marketing for specialty food producers and processors. Any producer interested in the potential and pitfalls of on-farm and value-added food processing, will find this new resource helpful in their planning and implementation process. 

    This publication was made possible through grant funding from the Harry R. Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology, Inc., with support from the United States Department of Agriculture – Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (USDACSREES.)

  • Maryland Rural Enterprise Development Center - Agencies & Jurisdiction
    Explore the Food Processing section about Agencies & jurisdiction. Topics include: Federal, State and local regulations.

  • Maryland Rural Enterprise Development Center - Rules for Specific Foods
    Explore the Food Processing section about Rules for Specific Foods. Topics include: food rules for meat, poultry and rabbit, dairy, eggs, baked goods, fruits and vegetables.

  • Maryland Rural Enterprise Development Center - Standards and Licensing
    Explore the Food Processing section about Standards and Licensing. Topics include: processing, facility, storage, labeling and distribution.

  • Maryland Rural Enterprise Development Center - Cottage Food Business
    Explore the pros and cons of starting a value-added product.

  • University of North Carolina: Perspectives Online - Value-Added Marketing
    Perspectives on line - The Magazine of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences,  North Carolina University. Winter 2004. (posted 3/13/13)

  • USDA Agriculture Marketing Service
    The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) administers programs that facilitate the efficient, fair marketing of U.S. agricultural products, including food, fiber, and specialty crops. AMS provides the agriculture industry with valuable services that help ensure the quality and availability of wholesome food for consumers across the county. The agency supports agriculture through a variety of programs including: Dairy Programs; Fruit and Vegetable Program; Livestock, Poultry and Seed Program; Cotton and Tobacco Program; National Organic Program; Science and Technology Program; and the Transportation and Marketing Program. From individual farmers to international businesses, our mission is to support American agriculture, helping the U.S. remain competitive in a global marketplace. (updated 9/4/15)

  • Food and Value-Added Agriculture
    Developed by the Agricultural Innovation Center through the University of Wisconsin-Madison Extension. The work of the Center is now part of the Center for Community & Economic Development.  It works towards increasing the supply and visibility of Wisconsin farms and food products by providing resources for entrepreneurs and educators as well as information about active programs.  These programs focus on increasing the market for wholesale and retail local foods in grocery stores and institutions as well as farmer’s markets, restaurants and community kitchens. (posted 3/13/13)
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