Following are guidelines to help producers make most effective use of the cooperative as they sell and fill orders for their customers. This should be considered a working document and suggestions for changes are welcome. You may use the comment box at the bottom of the page, or discuss on the coopproducers mailing list.
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PRICING: Enter the price you expect to receive for the product. NFC will markup the price from that amount. Please DO NOT make any mention of the price in your product description because it will not be reflected in any changes to the markup amount.
EXTRA CHARGE: Any amount indicated as an “extra charge” will be passed through directly between the customer and the producer without any markup or taxes. This should only be used for things like deposits and reservations, where the entire amount is returned to the customer at a later date. Extra charges can be negative, reflecting a refund back to the customer. The “extra charge” is assessed on item quantities, not weights, so five chickens purchased at an extra charge of $-2.00 each (negative extra charge) will return a total of $10.00 to the customer ($2.00 for each chicken), separate from any weight charges.
NFC recommends setting the “extra charge” for reservations somewhere between 50% and 75% of the expected final cost (particularly for very expensive items) in order to protect both you and NFC from any customers who decide against following through with the order and paying for the final product.
INGREDIENTS: Food products which are composed of multiple ingredients must have an ingredient list included in the product description.
PRODUCER BASKET: Each producer has access to several different “producer basket” options that display what customers have ordered. The producer basket will be updated immediately as customers place items in their shopping carts or remove items from their shopping carts. It is best not to prepare products for shipment because quantities and selections can change until the ordering period has closed.
Producer baskets provide ways for entering weights for random-weight products and for changing quantities when the quantity shipped does not match the quantity the customer ordered. In both cases, the changed number will be accepted when moving to the next field (the tab-key is useful for that purpose) and the field will briefly turn orange to signify that a change has been accepted.
PRODUCER INVOICE: Only after products have been “checked out” and weights for any random-weight items have been entered, then those items will show up as sales on the producer invoice.
FILLING ORDERS: Products needing weights or quantity adjustments should have those values entered BEFORE they are picked up by the NFC transport driver and always by 6:00 PM Tuesday.
RANDOM WEIGHTS: For details on entering weights for random-weight items, please reference the How to Enter Weights instructions.
SHORT QUANTITIES: When there is not enough product to fill an order, the “shipped” quantity should be adjusted for one or more customers. Whether a partial quantity is shipped to each customer or whether some customers are outed entirely is up to the producer’s discretion. Shortages (or ‘outs’) should be noted as soon as possible, so accurate invoices can be printed.
BACK-ORDERS: NFC transport depends on knowing what products are being shipped at any particular time. Missing items, or items being shipped that are not expected can cause problems. If a product can not be shipped, but the customer still wants to make a purchase, it is preferable to short the order to reflect the quantity actually shipped (possibly zero) and ask the customer to reorder at a future date. Please do not just hold the item until “next time.”
SELECTING LABELS: Use “One label per item” if individual products will be shipped separately, usually on account of their size. Use “One label per customer/storage” if you plan to bundle multiple products together into a single package with one label on the outside. If multiple products are packaged together, please verify that ALL of the products in the package are clearly listed on the label.
PRINTING LABELS: Except for small items where a standard label is too large, please use full-size labels as printed from the customer labels page of the website. This will ensure the routing information is easy to read and products will be routed to correct location and customer.
CUSTOM LABELS: In special cases (broken printer, special order, lost label), it is permitted to hand-write labels for routing. If needed, please print neatly, with a clear high-contrast pen so the label can be easily read.
SERIES LABELS: For some products, it is sometimes desirable to split a single product into a series of multiple packages, even when it is going to the same customer. For example, an order of eight dozen eggs might be split into two bundles of four dozen each. In this example, each bundle should have its own label and be marked “1 of 2” and “2 of 2” respectively. Unfortunately, only a single label is automatically generated, but the sequence numbers can be hand-written on the labels.
AFFIXING LABELS: Labels can be printed on self-adhesive labels or on plain paper and placed on packages with clear packaging tape. Please ensure your printer ink will not run if it comes into contact with moisture during shipping. Avoid using staples to attach labels. However, if using staples, print the label on heavy paper or card-stock and staple it securely at both ends.
PROTECTING LABELS: It is a good practice to wrap clear packaging tape over the entire printed portion of the labels to provide additional protection against moisture and damage. Products with labels that become unreadable or detached during shipping are unlikely to reach their destination.
Shipping and Transport
QUALITY: Transport through NFC can involve stacked products traveling many miles over bumpy roads. While we make every effort to ensure careful handling, improperly packaged products may suffer. For best customer satisfaction and repeated sales, please pay careful attention to proper packaging and do not assume your product will be “on top” during transport.
ROUTING: Labels contain information about the producer, product, destination, and customer in order to ensure products are correctly routed to the customer. It is important that labels be clear, easy to read, and do not fall off the packages — even when exposed to moisture.
PRESORTING: When preparing an order for pickup by the NFC driver, please try to organize products heading to the same destination together. This will speed the check-in process and help keep our truck on the road as much as possible.
STORAGE TEMPERATURES: Products requiring frozen storage (FROZ) should be packaged separately from products that only need refrigeration (REF). In most cases, products that do not require refrigeration (NON) will be transported and stored at refrigerated temperatures. If a product actually requires warmer storage (such as live plants or honey) please package those items separately and be sure to notify the NFC driver that special handling will be needed.
CLEANLINESS: When transporting food in coolers, the coolers must be washed out and disinfected with bleach prior to each use. For safety reasons this needs to be standard practice before any NFC deliveries are made. One wash and disinfecting for each delivery cycle is sufficient.
GOAL: The main goal of good packaging is to ensure products are transported safely and reliably from the producer to the end customer. Most items will be re-sorted as they are stored for NFC transport. It is best when each parcel is capable of making the journey under conditions different than the ones in the box you provide to the NFC transport service.
Please package eggs separately from other items so they can be handled with special care. Each carton or bundle should have its own label, attached in such a way that it will not peel off if exposed to moisture. Please do not package eggs in bags.
When packing eggs, the goal is to create a rectangular bundle, not more than four eggs wide nor more than three eggs tall. Standard 2×6 egg cartons should be bundled together in groups not more than two cartons wide and not more than three cartons high. Large 3×6 cartons should only be bundled one carton wide and not more than three cartons high. If shipping a quantity that does not fit the above specifications, then please break the order into multiple packages with separate labels. Example: A five carton shipment would be broken into a bundle of two and a bundle of three. Smaller cartons (2×3 or 3×4) should follow similar packaging guidelines.
Please avoid putting breads, cookies, brownies on a paper plate wrapped in plastic. It works okay, but its safety can be compromised when going from truck to shelf or shelf to truck. These things always have to be nicely placed on top of other things and they are not stackable.
Clam-shell containers or small boxes are ideal, but they can get a little pricey for the producer. However, boxes will guarantee safer transport. Boxes that are reusable, like shoe boxes are acceptable as long as lids and labels are secure.
Bags are acceptable and those that are clear and transparent are best for the handler to see what they are handling. There is some room for creative use of packaging with produce. One can use packing plastic bottles or containers and newspaper stuffing. The newspaper stuffing protects the vegetables or fruit and the container keeps them extra protected and buffered from other items that may be involved in stacking of coolers or totes.
Heirloom tomatoes are difficult to transport and keep in good condition. Putting tomatoes in a plastic bag is not advised. They will get squished easily just by the handling and layering of items. If you are selling tomatoes to be used as slicers or for processing sauce, they should be packed in a box with tape.
If you are selling tomatoes to be used as seconds, a bag may be okay for that situation because the customer will be smashing up tomatoes anyway, but it would be important to advertise the packaging as such.
Melons and winter squash are heavy and if orders are in bulk size they need to be placed usually into boxes so they will not roll around. Producers need to keep the boxes to a manageable lifting weight for the drivers and volunteers to handle. If a second box is needed then be sure to identify with individual labels, marked in a series.
Meat should be wrapped in brown paper, white paper from meat processor, or newspaper with labels secured under transparent packaging tape. Tape around the package, covering the label, to keeps the packages intact and easy to transport. Meat wrapped in plastic bags is better when taped together into tightly wrapped bundles. Loose or floppy bags of meat (or anything else) are difficult to handle when sorting. Please do not send loose bags of meat.
Again all labels should be covered with mailing tape, thick tape that secures to the bag. Please do not use staples or unprotected, uncovered labels. Moisture from the freezer will cause the ink will bleed and run, rendering the label unreadable. Stapled labels tend to fall off and get lost.