MORRISVILLE, N.Y. — Take a drive to Nelson Farms County Store, in Nelson, and pick up a bottle of Cow Tippin’ Steak Sauce. Students in Assistant Professor Scott Colby’s distribution & marketing of agricultural products class at SUNY Morrisville rebranded the tasty product and earned an award for their marketing plan.
Agricultural business students Tiffany Ramos, Taylor Brandofino and Cuyler Reynolds and equine science major Elizabeth Heart rebranded the sauce during the popular class, which gives students experience and insight in the value-added sector of the agriculture industry.
Typically, students produce their own products in-person at the taste kitchen at Nelson Farms, but were not able to due to COVID-19 restrictions. Instead, they met virtually multiple times a week to rebrand an existing sauce, giving it a new name, flavor and labels.
They devised a marketing plan for their product, too — a fun, tangy sauce that can be used not only on steak, but also in everyday cooking.
“Our target market is blue-collar workers looking to get the taste of high-class meals without paying the hefty price,” Ramos said. “They are looking for a product that they can repeatedly use to spice up their meals and add a delicious meaty flavor. Our customers want to add flavor to a meal or add to their favorite cut of beef while using a flavorful local product.”
“The group did a fantastic job with their product and also won the 2020 Best Marketing Plan Award,” Colby said. “The marketing plan is as big of an accomplishment as the sauce itself, which says a lot.”
The award, presented by Colby to the team with the top marketing plan, holds a lot of merit during a year riddled with challenges.
“Not being able to taste-test the product made it difficult to tailor our marketing plan,” Brandofino said. “And not being able to experience the production processes was also a challenge. But we did a lot of research, asked questions to those working at Nelson Farms and made assumptions about how our steak sauce would taste based on the ingredients.”
The end product gives food a smoky and salty flavor, which is good on just about anything.
“It can be added to chili to give it a little smoky flavor, to hamburger meat to enhance the flavor, veggie burgers to add a meaty flavor, and even used on meatloaf to replace ketchup,” Reynolds said.
Students have created more than 30 products through the years in the college’s distribution & marketing of agricultural products class.
“What I want students to take away from the class is a way of thinking that allows them to make market decisions in a creative, yet disciplined way,” Colby said. “The joy of creating a final food product that will be sold in stores with a well-supported analytical plan for their product's success motivates students to think in a new multi-threaded way.”
“It was a challenging and rewarding experience for all of us,” Ramos said. “We are all very thankful to Dr. Colby for giving us the tools to succeed, providing direction when needed and allowing us the creative license.”
In addition to the Country Store, some of Morrisville’s agricultural business products make their way to more than 70 wholesale accounts in New York State. Popular student-made products include Slather Sauce, Kraken Lemon Pepper Marinade, and Sweet and Spicy Apple Mustard.
Nelson Farms is a unique combination of a business incubator and food product processing facility, operated by the Morrisville Auxiliary Corporation (MAC). Located on Route 20, the Country Store sells numerous products made by SUNY Morrisville students.