October 17, 2013

Farmers’ Markets – another way to do business

Farmers’ Markets are helping to bridge the gap between the city and the farm. Jane Adams, National Representative of the Australian Farmers’ Markets Association, explains how farmers can benefit from selling directly to their consumers.

While being a source of cost-effective market research and ideal outlets for selling excess or imperfect produce, Farmers’ Markets also offer higher profit margins and savings on transport and packaging costs.

According to the Austrian Bureau of Statistics, more than two thirds of Australians live in our major cities. Farmers’ Markets are helping to bridge the gap between town and country by enabling farmers to sell directly to consumers and giving consumers an opportunity to find out more about their food.

“Whether they’re looking for organic food, local produce or new and different food varieties, most of the people who shop regularly at a Farmers’ Market want to know the provenance of their food,” says Jane Adams, National Representative of the Australian Farmers’ Markets Association (AFMA). “A good way of finding out is to buy it from the person who produced it.”

The AFMA definition of a Farmers’ Market is ‘a predominantly fresh food market that operates regularly within a community, at a focal public location, that provides a suitable environment for farmers and food producers to sell farm-origin and associated value-added processed artisan food products directly to customers’.

There’s strong demand for the markets in urban communities but many farmers have yet to consider the benefits. “One of the most important is a higher profit margin as you’re selling directly rather than through a wholesaler,” says Adams. “Many farmers can also save on transport and packaging costs.”

Markets can be good outlets for excess or imperfect produce, such as fruit that has suffered superficial damage in a hailstorm. They can help producers promote brand awareness and they can also be a source of very cost-effective market research. “People give feedback on what they bought at the previous market day,” says Adams. “I know one apple grower who needed to replant a block for juice and wasn’t sure which variety to use. He rented a stall at a farmers’ market for six months and, by taking juice from different varieties, he was able to identify the one consumers preferred.”

The number of markets is increasingly steadily and their future seems secure. “A survey carried out by ABARES in association with AFMA included a questionnaire for market managers,” says Adams. “Ninety seven percent of those who responded said they believed that their markets were sustainable over the long term.”

Adams encourages farmers to visit a local market and talk to farmers who sell there. “Farmers’ Markets aren’t for everyone but many producers have built them very successfully into their business model,” says Adams.

“AFMA has resources available to help you make the most of the opportunity,” says Adams.  Find out more about Farmers’ Markets.

How AFMA is helping to bridge the gap

AFMA is committed to providing economic, social and health benefits by:

  • forging links between rural and urban communities
  • providing education about food and nutrition
  • promoting the consumption of fresh and local produce
  • revitalising town and public space
  • regenerating community spirit
  • facilitating community-based food security programs
  • recycling green waste and promoting appropriate packaging

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