by| Featured Contributor
Happy National Farmers Market Week! This year, the week-long event falls between August 2nd through August 8th.
Farmers markets, particularly amid the pandemic, are playing an extra-special role in the lives of people everywhere. During the early months of COVID-19, grocery store chains struggled to keep fresh produce and essential items in stock. Consumers quickly turned to their neighborhood farmers market for essentials. State governments recognized farmers markets for their essential services. They allowed stalls to remain open, provided that all visitors practice social distancing guidelines and wore masks, and farmers markets remained in abundance as essential businesses.
Loyal customers are grateful for the chance to buy local, fresh fruits, vegetables, breads, eggs, milk, and other goods provided by vendors. In return, vendors are thankful for their growing customer base. For food producers, the farmers market presents the opportunity to embrace entrepreneurship by starting a business that can help feed and champion local communities.
In celebration of this week, let’s highlight a few interesting facts about farmers markets you might not know about.
1. $9 billion of the U.S. economy comes from farmers markets.
In a recent blog post from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), it was revealed that farmers market contributions are no small potatoes. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports farmers markets contribute $9 billion to the United States economy every year.
2. Farmers markets are quickly expanding — and creating more jobs in their respective communities.
In 1994, the Farmers Market Coalition (FMC) reported a little under 2,000 farmers markets were in existence in the United States. As of 2020, there are over 8,600 U.S. farmers markets.
The more farmers markets are established, the more opportunities grow for job creation. According to the Farmers Market Coalition, a 2011 Economic Research Service report noted that fruit and vegetable farms that sell to local markets employ 13 full-time workers for every $1 million earned in revenue. In comparison are fruit and vegetable farms that do not sell locally. For every $1 million earned in revenue by these farms, only three full-time workers are employed.
Not only do farmers markets help create jobs for local communities and neighboring areas, but spending money at the farmers market ensures the preservation of said jobs. Spending money at grocery store chains, however convenient they may be with longer hours and larger inventory, ultimately takes sales out of the community. Putting money towards sales at the local farmers market helps create income for the region. It keeps local economic activity strong and allows farmers, ranchers, and agricultural entrepreneurs to continue to do business.
3. Farmers markets may be recession-proof businesses.
It’s difficult to make the declaration that any one business is truly recession-proof. This is why I added in a tentative “may be” in the paragraph header.
Despite the present economic downturn, sales at farmers markets are thriving. A great deal of credit goes to the business model for farmers markets. Successful business models are defined by four factors, including pricing and differentiation, marketing and sales, production and delivery methods, and customer satisfaction. Farmers markets have flexibility in their business structure that allows for both price and production adjustment to meet the needs of customers.
Beyond meeting essential food needs and adjusting price points, farmers markets continue to grow in popularity thanks to our world’s changing relationship with food. According to the Food Marketing Institute, local and sustainable foods have been a top buying trend with consumers for the past eight years. We care about what the nature of the food we are eating and where it is sourced.
The farmers market is also quickly becoming a valuable space to network. Only this type of networking is a little more focused on breaking bread together. Connections and friendships may be established between vendors, sellers, and customers. This type of invaluable support can lead to incredible opportunities, lifelong friendships, and even plant the seed for more individuals to embrace the potential found in becoming an entrepreneur at a farmers market.