More Australians shopping for fresh vegetables at farmers’ markets, ‘local’ food trend grows

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 24th March 2014
More Australians shopping for fresh vegetables at farmers’ markets, ‘local’ food trend grows

Taking the trend towards ‘local’ food to a new level, new national consumer research examining where Australians typically shop for their fresh vegetables has found that 14 per cent of survey respondents typically buy their vegetables at a farmers’ market.

The Colmar Brunton Omnibus Survey (conducted in January 2014 and February 2014 with more than 1,000 respondents) on behalf of the Australian Farmers’ Markets Association (AFMA), found that in addition to the 14 per cent of Australians who typically shop at a farmers’ market for their vegetables, 4 per cent of the respondents said they bought directly from the growers at the farm-gate or roadside stalls.

“Previous consumer research on vegetable purchasing has been restricted to mainstream retail channels,” said Jane Adams, AFMA spokesperson. “This is the first time shoppers have been able to indicated farmers’ markets as a source of vegetable supply,” she said.

“These national results indicate the pivotal and growing role farmers’ markets play in healthy eating and in Australia’s fresh food supply,” Ms Adams said. “Strong consumer demand for seasonal, paddock-to-plate vegetables, be they dirty spuds, celery or organic beetroot, is the mainstay of successful farmers’ markets,” she said.

Other findings

Other findings of the Colmar Brunton research showed that women were more likely to shop for vegetables at farmers’ markets. Nine per cent of respondents also stated that markets (including community of municipal markets) were their main locations for regular vegetable purchases.

The most common market type mainly shopped at by consumers was a farmers’ market (3 per cent). Other non-mainstream supply channel options included in the survey were community markets, municipal markets and wholesale markets offering retail access.

There are currently over 150 farmers’ markets trading regularly across all Australian States. AFMA said the farmers’ markets movement had “grown progressively” since the first farmers’ market commenced trading in Victoria in 1999.

Support for farmers’ markets part of mainstream ‘local’ purchasing trend?

Australian Food News notes that the growth of farmers’ markets could be part of a trend towards Australian-grown or ‘local’ food that can be seen in recent moves by major food retailers.

Both Coles and Woolworths have in recent times made moves towards increasing the presence of Australian-grown product in their supermarkets as part of a strategy to be seen as a supporter of Australian farmers and suppliers.

Australian Food News reported earlier in March 2014 that Woolworths had signed a five-year $70 million deal with Australian food processor SPC Ardmona for the supply of the supermarket’s ‘Select’ brand of tinned fruit. This deal came after the huge success of an earlier deal with SPC Ardmona, that saw sales of SPC Ardmona-supplied canned fruit increase by 48 per cent.

Woolworths also recently announced the continuation and expansion of a trial that will see the newly-created Farmers’ Own milk brand, which is supplied directly by dairy farmers in the Manning Valley in northern New South Wales, become available in 105 Woolworths supermarkets. Coles also signed a long-term contract with Australian dairy co-operative Murray Goulburn in 2013 for the supply of fresh milk for the supermarket group’s private label by Murray Goulburn’s dairy brand Devondale.

Australian Food News also reported in September 2013 that Woolworths was considering ‘local’ branding as part of its push to be seen to be supporting Australian farmers and suppliers. In October 2013, Australian Food News reported that Coles was continuing with a series of ‘meet the buyer’ meetings, where food producers had the opportunity to show their product to Coles’ team of expert buyers as the supermarket group strove to source more locally-produced food for its stores.