We all have visited some sort of farmers market at least once in our lifetime. Farmers’ market is so common and famous that it has a presence worldwide.
A farmers market is a place of social gathering of shoppers, farmers, and community all together. In this market, the farmers gather to sell their produce without any intervention from a third party. This helps in cutting the commission of the middle man which is not only for the farmers but the consumers as well. Moreover, consumers get farm fresh products directly delivered to them.
Even though there are no other parties involved, the question arises- are farmers’ markets cheaper? Well, in this article we shall discuss the same along with other related angles of the farmer’s market.
1. What is a Farmers’ Market?
A farmers’ market is a physical wholesale or retail marketplace wherein the seller i.e. the farmers and buyers meet. The farmers sell their products directly to the consumers. Farmers’ markets can be held either indoors which are usually sheltered or outdoors.
There is no such uniformity in holding a farmer’s market in a particular way. Typically in a farmers market, there are vendor stands and stalls with tables and chairs.
2. Farmers’ Market – Pros and Cons
2.1. Pros of Farmers’ Market
- Fresh Food – Often farmers’ market products are fresh. As they are directly bought by the farmers from farm to table for selling.
- Variety – Farmers market will surely surprise you with the variety of vegetable and fruit options they have to offer you.
- Seasonal Food – Farmers market is an ideal market to locate seasonal vegetables and fruits. These seasonal food items are first available in a farmer’s market before reaching any supermarket.
- Organic Food – Conventional and organic fruits and vegetables are readily available in these types of markets. These food products are produced without the usage of harmful chemical-based pesticides.
- Social Meet – Farmer’s markets are great places to socialize with the community and local farmers.
- Support the Community – Farmers’ markets support the farmer’s community to a great extent. As there is no middle agent to take commission the complete profit is enjoyed by the farmers.
- Improved Market Economy – These markets play a great role in improving the local economy by more local jobs in the community.
2.2. Cons of Farmers’ Market
- Occasional Market – Usually these markets are held once a week. Hence, if you need any item immediately you will have to head towards a supermarket. Also, if you are in search of out-of-season produce you will not be able to find it in a farmers’ market.
- Expensive at times – You don’t always find as low a price as you expect in these markets. Many times the food here is higher than in grocery stores.
- Payment Problem – Usually farmers deal in cash only. Unlike in supermarkets where virtual money is accepted here not all accept it.
- Quality – The food here is directly bought by the farmers without any screening done by regulatory authorities. Hence, safety standards are not complied with so you might receive a poor-quality food item.
3. Are Farmers’ Markets Cheap – Comparison with Grocery Stores and Supermarkets
It is a myth that farmers’ markets are always cheaper than that of a grocery store or supermarket. Now the question arises why are the prices high in farmers’ markets even when the commission of middlemen is eliminated? Here are some explanations as to why farmers market are not always reasonable:
3.1.Farm Product Growing Method
Many a time the farmers grow food products organically and sustainably without the usage of any sort of harmful chemicals. This can be a costly affair. Hence, to recover this amount the farm products are sold at higher prices than in grocery stores that sell hybrid food products.
Let us understand better with the following illustration:
A farmer may sell a pack of strawberries at the farmers market which are organically grown and handpicked for ten dollars. The same pack of strawberries is available for five dollars in grocery stores. But the difference is the strawberries in a grocery store are hybrid and ripped by using chemicals which impacts the pricing.
3.2. Farm Product From Other States
When grocery stores buy anything from another state they purchase in bulk. Hence their cost of purchasing is low. Also, the transportation cost is substantially lower. But when a farmer brings farm products from another state the quantity is less as compared to the grocery store. Thus, it has an impact on purchasing prices and transportation costs. Thus making the same product cheaper in grocery stores than at farmer’s markets.
It is usually small-scale farmers who grow locally that sell their products in the farmer’s market. These small-scale farmers have various costs attached. For instance, higher labor costs, and organic farming techniques increase their prices.
Whereas the large-scale farmers deal directly with the supermarkets. They are more efficient with modern machinery which impacts the pricing.
Additionally, when anything is grown in bulk the producing cost automatically decreases and visa versa.
3.4. Different Food Different Prices
According to the studies and research conducted in farmers’ markets and grocery stores it was seen that products like organic and conventional cantaloupe, greens, berries, fresh flowers, and lettuces were cheaper in farmer’s markets. Whereas, basic staples like conventional potatoes, onions, and tomatoes are more cheaper at a grocery store.
For instance, the Northeast Organic Farming Association conducted a search across many farmers’ markets, grocery stores, and supermarkets across the state and compared their prices.
4. Whom Does Farmers Market Serve?
There has been an informal survey conducted to understand whom these farmers’ markets serve. It was discovered that the products have higher prices. Hence are not affordable for low-income individuals like many college students. Furthermore, many farmer’s markets are taking measures to reduce the high prices.
For instance, customers may use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) funds in Boise Farmers Market to buy food items. Also, it is offering Double Up Food Bucks that will match SNAP purchases of fresh produce. Looking at this twenty-eight other markets in Idaho also started accepting SNAP.
- The largest farmers market in the world is Pike Place Market. This market is situated in Seattle, Washington, US.
- The oldest farmers market in the world is Central Market Lancaster which was established in the year 1730.
- Qin Yinglin is the world’s richest farmer. His approximate net worth is $20.7 billion.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to Locate a Nearby Farmers’ Market?
Today local farmers’ market has grown to a level that it has a presence in almost every state. To know better you can always visit the website. These official websites of the State Farmers Market Association will show you the schedule and other details.
What Mode of Payment is Acceptable in a Farmers’ Market?
There are several modes to make payments. But paying through cash works best in many farmers’ markets. Many a time there are network issues that might come in the way of payment through debit/ credit card.
Who Operates Farmers’ Markets?
Farmers’ market usually functions independently. There are also instances where it is organized by NGOs or other city partners. In any case, there is a market manager who sets certain regulations for the smooth functioning of these local markets.
What Happens to Products that Remain Unsold?
Usually, the farmers market has a rough idea about how much sales they would be making and gets the stock accordingly. But in the case of leftovers, they usually recycle them. For example, leftover berries and peaches are used for the preparation of Jams.
Are farmers’ markets cheaper? Well, there is no concrete answer to it because of the several aspects that are involved, as we described in the post.
A farmer’s market does not necessarily have to be less expensive. It has been noted that grocery stores charge lower prices for items than farmers’ markets, and vice versa. It all depends on the commodity that is being sold and whether the food product is organic or not.
If you’re prepared to pay, you may surely get organic and fresh produce at a farmers’ market. Sometimes goodness comes at a modest price.
Nazish is a member of ICSI (Institute of Company Secretaries of India) and also double graduate in Commerce and Law. Currently a full time mother and a homemaker trying to mark a difference through the power of pen. She is a voracious reader and has passion for writing. She has positive outlook towards life. She enjoys travelling and discovering new places.