All successful businesses comprise three core functions:

  1. Marketing
  2. Production/Operations
  3. Finance

Competency in (or coordinated access to) each of the three essential components of business is mandatory for commercial viability.   Food production businesses are in no way exceptions to the rule.

Ever heard the old business adage….. “Nothing happens until somebody sells something.”

That’s a simple way of asserting that the production/operations aspect will always be subordinate to marketing in terms of critical success factors.

Any would-be developer or enterprise sponsor need be more than minimally aware that in all commercial food production (any crop and/or method), literal production achievements represent much less than half of the equation for success (on the balance sheet).  Marketing acumen is even more important than quantity generated for realizing success in any venture and particularly so for the broad category of perishable commodities (food).  All food crops must be sold at prevailing fair-market prices in a consistent, timely-made, comprehensive and responsible manner, else profitability will not be realized entirely regardless of the production rate(s) achieved, be they exceptional, ‘certified’, or not.

Timely made sales of perishable commodities is a highly unique and well-established ‘art-form’ (developed professional enterprise) with absolutely NO similarity to, or intersection with, actual production constraints/result/variables. Successful food production enterprise is about FAR more than merely generating product efficiently.  More significant to success is selling all of the marketable output(s) effectively … and responsibly, meaning compliance with all regulatory constraints and standards.  Only then can any food production enterprise be made and kept ‘sustainable’  aka viable.

Not only do virtually all self-described ‘aquaponicists’ seem to know little to nothing about commercial aquaculture, and even less about horticulture (as if that’s possible, which it apparently is), they tend to know significantly less than nothing about commerce, marketing, food safety issues and compliance (the regulatory environment), post-harvest processes and handling, and enterprise management generally including labor standards.  Absent comprehensive access to/knowledge of these and other skill sets internally available to the food producing enterprise, economic non-viability is ultimately assured.

Furthermore, the novice need be aware that the vast majority of all horticulture (and other food crops) in the ‘West’ (US, Europe, etc.) are typically pre-sold under contract well prior to even ordering the seed, tilling the ground, etc..  Whether this be field-grown watermelons in Georgia, lettuce in Arizona, pistachios in CA, corn in Iowa, greenhouse pepper or tomatoes anywhere, Easter lilies, Mums for Mother’s Day, Valentine roses, shrimp in Vietnam, salmon in Scotland, etc., ETC.,  most production is under pre-arranged contract at negotiated unit prices by quality and volume over (in) time rates.  Typically, producers also ‘carry’ crop insurance to cover potential losses resultant to weather events, pests, diseases, labor strikes, etc.

Food production is commerce, aka an established, ‘pure’ and necessary business, and when ‘treated’ as such can indeed be both highly profitable to the producer and beneficial for the consumer  Pretending that successful food production is somehow magic, an utopian meme, and/or a Earth-friendly ‘green’ fantasy are perfect (apparently ubiquitous) recipes for disaster.

The ‘substitution’ of overt fantasy projection, aka wishful ‘thinking’, coupled with an abiding willful ignorance of the realities of food production, and of the relevant regulatory and distribution environments, are NOT viable alternatives to success – and never will be – wholly regardless of one’s motives and/or the extent of effort applied.

Remember, in business (as in life) gravity sucks, reality bites, and fantasy kills.


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