Farmers Markets Becoming Popular Again
Posted March 22, 2016
Farmers markets always seemed like a good idea. Fresh, delicious food straight from the producer is always appealing. Except, for many years the markets were merely an event on the calendar, not a weekend activity for most.
Things have changed.
With the growth in food and manufacturing awareness, and health crazes taking families and yo-pros by storm, it’s become a given, not a guess-so.
Each weekend in Brisbane, farmers markets become hives of activity with locals in and out of stalls procuring the best in local produce. Whether it’s fresh apples for the kids lunchboxes or fresh vegetables for the perfect roast, the business is booming.
Messaging to consumers about the what, wheres and hows of food has increased significantly in the past few years.
Woolworths have gone all out as the ‘fresh food people’, detailing farm to store processes qualifying the produce as being as organic as possible. However despite their claims and taglines, a 2015 survey by UBS Supermarket Supplier showed consumers had lowered their regard for Woolworths, citing freshness and value for money at low points.
Coles, although doing markedly better than Woolworths, is still struck by customer perceptions that gear negatively toward freshness and value.
While mass merchants engineer messaging that low price is an inherent virtue, other retailers focus on the value for money, and value of product as the ultimate meaning.
Self-perception, price perception and benefit perception all form consumer perception theory. As consumers become more self-aware, with regard to their health and nutrition, their response to food and food purchasing changes. Price perception is highlighted as big companies compete to be known as the cheapest; while benefit perception becomes the clincher for most. The cost of organic or health products is understood to be more expensive, but their benefit to the body , mind, health and wellbeing of the self is considered so much more valuable, benefit outweighs the other two.
It is with the changing perceptions that farmers markets have taken their turn at centre stage. Unbeguiled by conglomerates, supplier-retailer contracts or at the hands of part time staff stock re-shelfers, farmers markets are the place where all three perceptions of consumers can be applied diligently with ease.
At a farmers market, the perceptions for self, price and benefit are portrayed in a relaxed environment that puts a premium on each. Most notably, most farmers market shoppers aren’t just returning for the value in food – they’re returning because they enjoy the community that’s abundant in the market.
It’s almost as though Farmers Markets are a place to go back to the future – old-school community, shopping and marketing combined with the generation that’s used to everything coming on an iPhone first.
So, now that farmers markets an accepted and encouraging form of procurement, restaurants and cafes that engage and promote local sourcing will naturally benefit from the positive associations. But the growth in markets also points to a change for independent retailers.
For those like Harris Farm, the response isn’t to ignore the growth of farmer produce, but instead engage with it, by bringing the produce into their stores. In fact starting in September 2015, Harris Farm initatied a buy-local campaign that stocked produce grown within 150km of the stores. They also had farmsers in store for customers to meet, greet and ask questions of.
This provides an in for smaller farmers to have an output that isn’t just focused on market days, while independent retailers can benefit from having local produce in store for local customers.
For city dwellers, it means that living in an urban community won’t inhibit your food choice. As the growth and awareness in growing, buying and eating local increases, so too will the face of farmers markets, and we can’t wait to see what’s in store.