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  • Center of Excellence in Food and Agriculture
  • Food
Center of Excellence Client Models Resiliency, Willingness to Adapt Amidst Coronavirus Challenges

As events and businesses began to shutter last month in response to increasing concerns over the spread of COVID-19, so did Finger Lakes Harvest’s primary sales outlets.

“We showcase our products at approximately 50 specialty shows and farmers markets annually and sell through more than 50 specialty retailers, restaurants and bars in New York and Pennsylvania. All together, these outlets account for about 75 percent of our annual sales,” said Dorothy Poppleton, co-founder of the company, which produces drink mixers, tonics, bitters, extracts and more than 20 different flavors of shrub with locally-sourced vinegar, fruits and herbs from leased space at Cornell’s Food and Technology Park in Geneva.

While Coronavirus-related closures threatened to derail Finger Lakes Harvest’s 2020 sales goals, a quick shift to online marketing has generated buzz and business from individual consumers and larger regional retail outlets alike.

 “The COVID-19 event forced us to increase our online presence a little earlier than expected, Poppleton said, noting that the company is now heavily promoting its products through online platforms, such as Etsy, Facebook and Instagram, and has seen significantly-increased demand for its turmeric, ginger, tart cherry, and elderberry products. Additionally, we were fortunate to have attracted the attention and orders from a few larger regional retailers.

While Poppleton and partner, Andri Goncarovs, are eager to return to the events that have helped them connect directly with their customers, they’ve also modeled for other businesses impacted by the Coronavirus that a shift in focus can pay dividends.

“Finger Lakes Harvest is a tremendous example of a company that has been able to adapt and persevere through the challenges of COVID-19,” Center of Excellence Executive Director Cathy Young said. “We’re tremendously proud of the work that they are doing and remain ready and willing to help other companies consider how they can pivot their operations to find success during this challenging time.”

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