An online marketing tool matches producers with other links in the food chain, with the intent to locate food consumers and learn how they make food-buying decisions.

The Web site, www.marketmaker.uiuc.edu , is a joint effort between the University of Illinois Initiative for the Development of Entrepreneurship in Agriculture, the Illinois Department of Agriculture and the Illinois Council on Food and Agricultural Research.

“The idea is to provide a one-stop shop for strategic marketing information for producers and food retailers alike,” explains Darlene Knipe, principal investigator for the project. “There is an abundance of marketing data available via the Internet and through various trade magazines, but to a novice user it can be a bit overwhelming. We’ve attempted to distill and organize that information into an easy-to-use interactive site.”

For example, a producer wanting to sell pork to Hispanic consumers can request a map showing the greatest concentration of upper income Hispanic households, then request a complete demographic profile of those locations, she notes.

The next phase of the project is to build a list of Illinois food producers for the site. Extension educators will be contacting agricultural producers statewide. There is no charge to have your business listed on the site.

For more about the program, contact Knipe at dknipe@uiuc.edu or 309-792-2500 or program coordinator Gina Backes at backes@uiuc.eduor 309-796-0512.