College of ACES
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Food MarketMaker goes mobile with Foodsearcher.com

Published February 9, 2012
Looking for food, farmers, fisheries, farmers markets, wineries, and ag and marine tourism destinations located near you? Now you can use your smartphone to find them.

The University of Illinois (U of I), in cooperation with The Ohio State University and Penn State University, just launched Foodsearcher.com, a mobile version of its Food MarketMaker website. Food MarketMaker boasts one of the most extensive collections of food-industry related data in the country, with nearly 600,000 searchable business profiles and 20,000 rich profiles containing additional details provided by the farms, businesses, and fisheries themselves.

Since its launch in 2004, Food MarketMaker has expanded to 19 states and the District of Columbia. "We are always looking for ways to expand the reach of MarketMaker," says program leader Darlene Knipe, marketing specialist in ag and consumer economics. "The platform has always been a work in progress and every year, we add more features based on feedback we receive from our users. A mobile Food MarketMaker just seemed like a logical next step."

Rather than investing in downloadable apps for various devices, the team decided to create a mobile website, viewable through any browser, to allow the greatest number of people to find local food at farms, farmers' markets, wineries, food retailers, and other companies in the food industry.

According to project leader Julie Fox, OSU Extension direct food and ag marketing specialist, "With the increase in the number of people using smartphones and other mobile devices, it's only natural for MarketMaker to develop a mobile web presence."

"We will work with our state and national partners to build on this initial mobile version by adding social media interaction and other user- friendly features," she continued. "Food businesses interested in reaching mobile users can add or update their business profile for free to improve their visibility and link food searchers to their food products and experiences."

To access the new site, type foodsearcher.com into your mobile browser.

The National Food MarketMaker website can be found at www.foodmarketmaker.com. For additional information about the Food MarketMaker program, contact Darlene Knipe at dknipe@illinois.edu or phone 309-792-2500.

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