Farmers' Markets Canada (FMC) unveiled the results of the National Farmers' Market Impact Study 2009 Report at their first annual conference and annual general meeting on Feb. 16-17 in St. Catharines, Ontario. Farmers' markets from every province participated in the survey, which is the most comprehensive study of its kind ever conducted in North America.
The 2008 study examined 508 markets and confirmed the economic force that farmers' markets have become in the Canadian economy and their hosting communities. The markets play a key role in selling agricultural products with estimated sales of $1.03 billion, and an economic impact range of $1.55 to $3.09 billion annually. That is the purchasing power of approximately 28 million shopper-visits that spent an average of $32 per visit.
The popularity of farmers' markets as a 'community shopping experience' has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years as consumers seek out an array of food and non-food items, and the opportunity to interact with local farmers. The study confirmed that consumer demand and interest is closely aligned with support for local farmers and fresh, healthy, food choices.
"The success of farmers' markets can be attributed to a number of factors," explains Robert Chorney, Chair of FMC. "Consumers have expressed a clear desire to return to healthier, fresher, locally produced products. They have a strong belief in the integrity of shopping within their community. And, over 60 per cent of shoppers indicated that buying their food directly from a local farmer is extremely important to them."
By helping themselves, consumers are also helping Canadian producers. The study showed that farmers' markets play a significant role in generating farm incomes as 42 per cent of vendors said they achieve over half of their farm income from market sales. Furthermore, greater than half of vendors created up to five jobs as a result of their market participation.
"We are reaching a point where we need more farmer producers and vendors to serve the growing demand for farmers' markets," explains Chorney. "We are constantly recruiting new vendors and helping communities open new markets."
The mission of FMC is to promote farmers' markets and develop national initiatives and partnerships to further the viability, growth and prosperity of the Canadian farmers' market industry.
Are you thinking of expanding your garden centre to offer more produce and farmers' market-style products? E-mail
with your comments.