|Special Features||Economic Impact of Agriculture Studies (University of Guelph)|
4.6. Purchasing behaviour
Farmers Markets feature a variety of goods. The type and amount of products purchased by customers at the Market, are in part determined by the type of goods that vendors provide. For example, some markets feature meat products, fish and dairy products while others do not. These differences are reflected in the following graphs which illustrate the types of products that customers purchase at Markets.
Vegetables are clearly the most commonly purchased item at the market. As indicated in Graph 4.23, over 80% of Market customers purchase vegetables. Fruits are the next most popular market item. On average over 55% of customers purchase fruit while visiting the market (see Graph 4.24).
Baked goods are another very popular item at Farmers= Markets. Close to 40% of customers purchase baked goods while visiting the Market (Graph 4.25). Baked goods along with fruits and vegetables, are typically sold at every Farmers= Market.
Year round Markets tend to have a greater selection of meat products than do seasonal markets and a greater proportion of customers at year round Markets tend to purchase meat than do customers at seasonal Markets. The provincial average of +20% is buoyed by the meat purchasing patterns in the year round Markets. Fish is not available in all markets but where it is offered it appears to be a very popular item with customers. Indeed, in several of the markets, customers indicated that they came to the Market specifically for the fish. Markets that are looking to expand and diversify their product line, should consider giving special attention to attracting a fish vendor to the Market. Additional details are provided in Graph 4.26 and 4.27.
Bedding plants and flowers are also fairly popular items at Farmers Markets. Bedding plants in particular help to draw customers to the Market in the spring and flowers enhance the aesthetic qualities of the Market. Graph 4.28 and 4.29 provide additional details.
Where available, eggs are extremely popular among Market customers (Graph 4.30). Dairy products however, appear to be much more popular in some Markets than others. It should be noted that some Markets offer a greater variety of dairy products including international cheeses and this has helped to boost the interest in dairy products (Graph 4.31).
Honey and maple syrup products are commonly featured at Farmers= Markets and in many cases the vendor is a local producer (Graph 4.32 and 4.33). Interestingly, jams and preserves appear to be more popular with customers in seasonal Markets than in year round Markets (Graph 4.34).
Graph 4.23 Percentage of customers that purchase vegetables at the Market.
(Parkdale and By Ward data not available.)
Graph 4.24 Percentage of customers that purchase fruit at the Market.
(Parkdale and By Ward data not available.)
Graph 4.25 Percentage of customers that purchase baked goods at the Market.
(Parkdale and By Ward data not available.)
Graph 4.26 Percentage of customers that purchase meat at the Market.
(Parkdale and By Ward data not available.)
Graph 4.27 Percentage of customers that purchase fish at the Market.
(Parkdale and By Ward data not available.)
Graph 4.28 Percentage of customers that purchase bedding plants at the Market.
Graph 4.29 Percentage of customers that purchase flowers at the Market.
Graph 4.30 Percentage of customers that purchase eggs at the Market.
(Parkdale and By Ward data not available.)
Graph 4.31 Percentage of customers that purchase dairy products at the Market.
(Parkdale and By Ward data not avaialble.)
Graph 4.32 Percentage of customers that purchase honey at the Market.
Graph 4.33 Percentage of customers that purchase maple syrup products at the Market.
Graph 4.34 Percentage of customers that purchase jams/preserves at the Market.
(Parkdale and By Ward data not available.)
The survey revealed that on a provincial average, customers spend approximately $20 per visit to the Farmers= Market. The lowest Market average was just over $10 per Market visit and the highest was just over $30 per Market visit. In twelve of the Markets, the average amount spent by customers was over $15 per visit and in eight of the Markets the average amount spent by customers was over $20 per visit. Interestingly, neither the year round Markets nor the seasonal Markets displayed a consistency in the amount spent by customers (Graph 4.35). There appears to be as much variation within both the year round and the seasonal Market categories as there is between the year round and seasonal Market categories. Thus we note that although the Cambridge Farmers= Market recorded the highest level of customer spending, many seasonal Markets recorded impressive values as well (Burlington, Carp, Fort Francis, Milton, Sudbury). One notable difference between the Markets is that the customers who frequented Markets in small towns or villages tended, on average, tended to spend less than customers who frequented Markets situated in or near large urban centres.
Graph 4.35 Average amount of dollars spent at the market per customer.
At the provincial level the single largest spending category was $6 to $10 with just under 25% of customers. The next largest categoy was $16 to $20 with just over 15% of customers. Additional details are provided in Graph 4.36.
Graph 4.36 Dollars spent by customers (provincial average)
4.8. Economic Impact
Farmers= Markets have a significant economic impact on the local economy. Using the data collected from customers, the researchers were able to generate estimates of the total annual sales in each participating Market. The figures are presented in Graph 4.37.
All of the year round Markets (Brantford, Ottawa-By Ward, Cambridge, Hamilton) recorded annual sales figures in excess of $1.5 million. Three of these Markets (Brantford, Ottawa - By Ward, Hamilton) had annual sales of $3 million or more. Ottawa - By Ward had the highest annual sales value at $50 million and St. Marys had the lowest at $112,000. It is worth noting that several seasonal Markets also exceeded the $1 million annual sales level or came close to the measure (Sudbury, Ottawa-Parkdale, Burlington, Milton). The combined annual sales for the 19 Farmers= Markets amounts to approximately $73 million.
Graph 4.37 Estimated annual sales for the participating Markets.
The variation in annual sales between Markets is the result of a number of factors including:
In most instances, the Farmers= Markets that had annual sales under $500,000 were:
1) distantly located from large urban centres
2) seasonally operated for only one or two days during the week
3) had a relatively small number of vendors in the Market.
However, it was in the smaller Markets that customers typically attached a greater value to the Farmers= Market in terms of the way it provided the community with a place to socialize and how it served to reinforce a sense of community identity.
With respect to the influence of the Farmers= Market on the economy outside of the Market, the research clearly demonstrates that Farmers= Markets generate economic benefits across the community. Many of the businesses we spoke with acknowledged that the presence of the Market stimulates additional sales for neighbouring businesses and although we are unable to quantify this, it is important to emphasize that close to 50% of customers stop to shop at various businesses on their way to or from the Farmers= Market.
Additionally, multipliers associated with agriculture and other special events like agricultural fairs, suggest that for every dollar spent in the Market, another two dollars ripple through the provincial economy. These dollars may be spent by the businesses that supply the farmers that sell goods in the Market, the purchases of retail goods and services by employees in the Market and by customers who stop to make other purchases while on a trip to the Market. Thus, the annual sales figure for a Farmers= Market can be doubled to give an indication of the amount of dollars generated outside the Market. Graph 4.38 illustrates the estimated multiplier effect for each Market in the study.
Graph 4.38 Estimated dollars generated outside the Market.
Recognizing that the survey accounts for 19 of 127 Farmers= Markets in Ontario, and that these 19 Markets generated $73 million in annual sales, we estimate that the true level of sales for all Markets in the province amounts to close to $500 million. This leads to a total economic impact of approximately $1.5 billion in Ontario.
With respect to jobs, we estimate that the 19 participating Markets employed a total of 1,329 vendors and assistants (Graph 4.39).
Graph 4.39 Estimated number of jobs at the Markets.
Normal multipliers would suggest that for every working person in the Market, there are approximately two persons involved away from the Market. These people may be involved in picking produce, packing, labelling, cleaning or engaged in other parts of the preparation and "getting ready for Market" process. Applying the multiplier of two, we obtain the number of jobs that each Market supports outside of the Market (Graph 4.40).
Graph 4.40 Estimated number of jobs that the Market supports outside the Market.
Provincially, we estimate that on an average summer Market week, approximately 8,000 people are involved in sales and related tasks at Farmers= Markets across the province. This would suggest that a total of 24,000 people are directly and indirectly involved in preparing and selling the goods we find in Farmers= Markets.
Vendors recognize that farmers= Markets are an important retail outlet for local production and that they also serve an important social function. Many vendors are producers and the local Farmers= Market enables them to earn an income by supplying the local population with fresh produce. Indeed, in smaller Markets the great majority of vendors sell their own goods. Additionally, vendors clearly recognize the value of the Market in its ability to generate farm gate sales.
Vendors associate a number of other benefits with Farmers= Markets that extend beyond the direct economic benefits they offer. Many vendors believe that the Market serves an important social function in that it offers a venue for community members to socialize and stay in touch. Indeed, vendors themselves often commented on how much they enjoyed interacting with friendly and loyal customers.
The responses from customers revealed similar sentiments. In the customer survey it was discovered that the majority of customers routinely purchase from the same vendor(s) each time they visit the Market. Additionally, it was revealed that the majority of customers (60-70%) have been coming to the same Markets for more than five years.
Vendors relayed a number of challenges and issues that face Markets. A common concern raised by vendors is that a high percentage of the customer base at Farmers= Markets, is made up of senior citizens. Vendors question how long the Market will survive if steps are not taken to attract different age groups to the Market. Vendors would like to see Market administrators adopting more aggressive promotional campaigns that focus on attracting younger age groups to the Market.
Another challenge faced by Markets is attracting and maintaining vendors. Some Markets are having a difficult time retaining their vendors as other Farmers= Markets expand into additional days through the week. Vendors that have traditionally worked in two separate Markets on two separate days, feel compelled to choose one Market over the other when one of the Markets expands to a second day. From the vendors viewpoint, either additional staff must be taken on to handle
the one day Market or the one day Market must be abandoned altogether to avoid losing customers in the two day Market. This effect can be particularly harmful on a small Farmers= Market where the loss of even two or three vendors can produce the appearance of a Market in decline. As mentioned earlier, word of mouth is one of the most important forms of advertising for the Market. Once customers have gained the impression that the Market is in decline, it becomes a struggle to reverse the notion in the community and the customer base may begin to shrink over time.
This problem may become even more pronounced as more communities attempt to establish their own farmers= Market as a means of stimulating local economic activity and bringing in tourist dollars. Market administrators will have to communicate more regularly with vendors to ensure that they remain committed to the Market from year to year and throughout the season.
Vendors themselves are aware that theAhealth@ of the Market is closely associated with the level of commitment shown by its vendors. They recognize the importance of attending the Market on a regular basis. Again, this view was more strongly expressed in small Markets where the absence of one or two vendors can make the Market appear noticeably vacant. As emphasized throughout this report, Farmers= Markets derive the bulk of their customers from the local community and any negative impression gained by customers can quickly spread by word of mouth to undermine the popularity of the Market. Thus, it is crucial for Market administrators to create conditions in the Market that will capture the loyalty of the vendors.
One method of acquiring this loyalty is by inviting vendors to join the board of directors or other Market governing bodies. A number of Markets in Ontario are presently being managed by administrative bodies that have vendor representation. However, some vendors suggested that these positions should be filled by>local producers= who are sufficiently experienced to represent the interests of producers. This interest clearly compliments the desire shown by customers to support local growers. Having additional grower representation on the board would demonstrate
that the Market is committed to supporting local producers and their interests. Markets could also consider offering reduced stall fees to local producers as a way of enticing them to join and stay at the Market.
Some vendors would like to have the option of leaving the Market early, once they have sold all of their produce or once the Market crowd begins to dwindle. However, other vendors noted that if a standard time is not adhered to and vendors are permitted to leave at their convenience, the customers will become confused. Furthermore, the early departure of vendors from the Market leave may give latecomers to the Market the impression that the Market is in decline.
Related to the issue of vendor loyalty is the controversial practice of allowing short-liners to attend the Market mid-way through the season. Short-line vendors may be local or non-local producers who have a limited variety of produce, usually one or two specialty crops such as sweet corn or peaches. Vendors who attend the Market throughout the length of the season or year round often produce similar products as the short-liners in addition to a variety of other goods. A number of vendors questioned the fairness of allowing short-liners at the Market. They contend that the all-season vendors enable the Market to open earlier in the year and that they stay with the Market even during periods when the volume of customers drops off. They suggest that all-season vendors sometimes shoulder losses during the Market season while short-line vendors only exploit busy periods. As such, all season vendors feel that they should be compensated in some way (lower stall fees) as short-line vendors come into the Market. Conversely, short-line vendors suggest that their appearance at the Market attracts more customers to the Market as produce comes into season. The dilemma faced by Market mangers is that customers expect there to be a variety of goods at the Market and utilizing short-liners is often their only option.
A common issue raised by vendors is that Market regulations are inadequate or not rigidly enforced. In some Markets, vendors suggested that more formal regulations were needed to ensure that everyone is treated fairly. Along with
enforcing the regulations, vendors would like to see Markets draft comprehensive lists that detail what products are allowed and what products and not allowed for sale at the Market.
Vendors suggested that the Market could do more with respect to promoting the achievements of local producers. Some producers have been recognized for their quality produce and productivity and this could be an excellent selling feature for the Market. Other suggestions included offering food preparation demonstrations at the Market featuring seasonal produce.
In larger Farmers= Markets, it is not uncommon for the Market to have a combination of producer and wholesaler agents. Market producers may work together through one agent and in some instances vendors offer goods that have been sourced through wholesalers. Purchasing from wholesalers is particularly the case when out of season produce is sought by customers who may not appreciate the constraints the Ontario climate places on producers.
However, the presence of wholesalers is a fairly contentious issue. Producers/growers questioned the legitimacy of Markets that featured wholesalers. Although some growers are willing to acknowledge that wholesalers or re-sellers are necessary or beneficial when local produce is unavailable, they strongly believe that restrictions should be put in place to limit re-sellers at the Market as local produce comes into season.
As illustrated by the findings, Markets are faced with a variety of challenges in attempting to balance consumer interests with vendor interests. Introducing some form of standardized producer/grower certification that can be easily identified by customers, may be a first step in providing producers/vendors with the recognition they desire.
4.10. Local businesses
The researchers interviewed over 100 businesses operating near Farmers= Markets in order to gain a fuller understanding of the economic and social impact that Farmers Markets have on the local community.
In general, businesses view Farmers= Markets as attractions that are very community oriented. Furthermore, businesses acknowledge that Market days generate considerably more customer traffic than non-Market days and many businesses indicated that they witnessed an increase in sales activity on Market days during Market hours. These effects appear to be more intense where businesses are located in close proximity to the Market.
A number of businesses have picked up on this association and they actively promote their goods to the Market crowd. Indeed, some business owners have adjusted their operating hours to coincide with the Market hours.
Interestingly, some businesses continue to hold the view that Market customers do not make purchases beyond the Market. The findings in this report clearly demonstrate that the majority of Market customers make additional shopping stops during their outing to the Market. Indeed, close to 50% of customers stop at neighbouring businesses during their outing to the Market. Markets should be more active in informing the local business community of this fact and seeking to develop joint promotional campaigns.
Although the research reveals that most businesses have a positive view of the Market, business owners voiced a number of common concerns regarding the Market. Business owners commented on the presence of competition in the Market in the form of vendors selling similar goods. They also expressed concern about the number of crafters that are being allowed at Markets and questioned whether a Market should be allowed to promote itself as a "Farmers Market" when it features a high proportion of craft vendors and wholesale produce vendors. Businesses do not want Farmers Markets to become flea Markets and they are concerned that some Markets are drifting toward that style. Business owners also questioned the fairness
of allowing Markets to operate alongside local businesses without having to pay similar charges that are associated with the permanent establishment (e.g. property taxes).
Markets need to be sensitive to these concerns and place an emphasis on promoting the Market as a local economic and social asset that provides benefits across the community. Where the concern over property taxes has been made an issue, Markets need to communicate to the local business community that the Market plays an important role in stimulating additional economic activity in the community. Furthermore, Markets that are able to secure a large number of local producer/vendors, can boast that they are helping to keep money circulating in the local economy.
Many business owners indicated that they shop at the Market. This represents a great testimonial for the Market and Market mangers should make the most of these testimonials in promotional campaigns. Furthermore, some business owners have deliberately located in areas near to the Market in recognition of the economic spill-over effect.
Some Markets are distantly located from the business areas and as a consequence some businesses questioned whether the Market actually has an impact on generating additional economic activity. The report has clearly shown that even in those communities where the Market is not located in close proximity to business centres, customers make additional shopping stops during their outing to the Market. Businesses need to be informed of this fact.
Business owners often mentioned that the best selling feature of the Market is that it allows community members to buy from local growers. Consideration should be given to promoting this feature more intensively both on-site at the Market and in the community.
4.11. Community Impact
Farmers= Markets are very community oriented. The great majority of customers (80%+) are only ten minutes or less from "their" local market. This travel time indicates that people live close to or work close to the Market they shop in.
Customers strongly identified the Market as a unique community feature that offers both economic and social benefits. They expressed strong sentiments regarding the social importance of the Market as a venue where the community can come together and interact. Senior citizens find the Market to be particularly attractive as a meeting place.
Furthermore, customers suggest that the Market is a key community icon that can serve to reinforce and help retain community identity. These views are especially strong in communities that have seasonal Markets where the start of the Market season is seen as a special occasion and is eagerly anticipated as an indicator of the arrival of spring.
For many customers, the trip to the Market is part of their weekly routine and it represents the focal point of their day. This was particularly evident in the smaller Markets that operate only one or two days during the week. At these types of Markets, customers frequently regard the trip to the Market as a special event and they warn against any plans to expand the Market to other days during the week. In smaller Markets, customers tended to feel that increasing the number of Market days would spoil the atmosphere of the Market and make it less of a special occasion, thus undermining the appeal of the Farmers= Market.
Customers pointed out that Farmers= Markets represents an excellent alternative to mainstream supermarket shopping with a friendly, relaxed atmosphere that can not be duplicated anywhere else. Customers suggested that this feature, along with the cultural and historical features of Farmers= Markets, should be more widely emphasized in promoting Markets as tourist attractions.
Many seasonal Markets are located outdoors or have an outdoor component to the Market. Customers greatly enjoy this aspect of the Market and they closely
associate the outdoor aspect of the Market with freshness. Indeed, the outdoor setting of the Farmers= Market is a distinct feature that sets it apart from the mainstream supermarket experience. Markets that are looking to relocate indoors or develop permanent indoor sites should keep this factor in mind and attempt to incorporate an outdoor element to the Market. Most of the customers have been visiting >their= Market for many years and during the study it was noted that although customers are receptive to sheltered facilities, they do not wish to see >their= Market become entirely enclosed.
Whatever their background, customers love the fresh produce sold by local producers. Indeed, the great majority of customers go to the Markets to purchase fruits and vegetables. Customers identified Markets as important venues that provided opportunities for interacting with farmers and learning more about where our food comes from and the work involved in producing it.
Beyond its social attributes, customers recognize the value of the Market in terms of the income and employment opportunities it provides for local producers. Customers also believe that nearby businesses experience spill-over benefits as Market customers make additional shopping stops during their outing to the Market. Although we are not able to precisely quantify the economic impact of this shopping behaviour, we do note that on average, close to 50% of customers stop at other shops before and/or after visiting the Market (Graph 4.41).
Graph 4.41 Percentage of customers who make other shopping stops while travelling to or from the Market.
Farmers= Markets in Ontario have a long history that dates back to 1780 when the first Market was established in Kingston. Over time, markets grew in number with the expansion of the settlement frontier in Ontario. Farmers= Markets continued to be a popular shopping venue up until the 1970s when consumers began travelling to shopping malls and avoided the downtown shopping area.
In Ontario, a resurgence of Farmers= Markets began in the late 1980s through initiatives by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). In early 1991, OMAFRA acted to provide Farmers= Markets with moral and financial assistance through the creation of Farmers= Markets Ontario, the provincial association of Ontario=s Farmers= Markets. The resurgence is also associated with the desire of community residents to preserve a shopping experience that is closely
connected with the food producer and more personal in its character. In recent years, new Markets have been established, older markets revitalized and a new customer base has been introduced to the Farmers= Market experience.
As the Markets reestablished and broadened their role, there was an expressed desire to measure the community and economic impact of the Markets. In 1998, a financial commitment from Farmers= Markets Ontario, the Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Council and 19 Farmers= Markets across the province, laid the foundation for a provincial study of Farmers Markets. The School of Rural Planning and Development at the University of Guelph was selected to carry out the research on behalf of Farmers= Markets Ontario. The objective of the study was to measure the economic impact of Farmers= Markets in terms of the value of sales and the number of jobs associated with Market activity. The study was also concerned with measuring the community impact of Markets in terms of the Asoft@ benefits that Markets provide to community members.
The 19 participating Markets were selected from the Farmers= Market Ontario Directory. They represent a cross section of the variation in Markets that exists across the province. Data was collected from five sources: Market customers, Market vendors, local business owners, Market mangers and personal observation. Field coordinators from the University of Guelph were responsible for recording personal observations and collecting data from the vendors, local business owners and Market managers. Volunteers and/or municipal employees from each of the 19 Market areas were trained by the field coordinators to administer the customer questionnaires at the Market.
The sample size for each Market was based on the estimated size of the local customer base. This enabled the researchers to establish a 95% level of confidence in the statistical analysis. Data entry was done using a spreadsheet (Excel) and the statistical analysis was performed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS). The final documentation for the study consists of 19 individual Market profiles and a provincial profile, which is the focus of this report.
The findings of the study indicate that Markets vary in their organizational structure. Some Markets are managed by vendor associations while others are operated through a local service club or Chamber of Commerce. The variation in
Market administration reflects the uniqueness of Markets from community to community. Markets also differ widely in the number of vendors they have and the types of products they offer but generally the emphasis is on fresh produce.
Markets have a number of common characteristics. A fairly consistent finding among the 19 Markets is that they attract a significantly higher proportion of women than men. Indeed, from a provincial perspective, 65% of Market customers are women. Another consistent finding is that the average market customer is older than the population at large having an average age of 45 years. With respect to income, 32% of Market customers have an income of $40,000 or more.
The great majority of customers travel to the Market by car (83%) while 13% of customers walk to the Market. Customers for the most part, live or work within a short distance from the Market. At the provincial level, 70% of customers have a travel time of less than 10 minutes.
Most of the customers (94%) visit the Market by themselves or with one other person. The findings suggest that seasonal Markets tend to attract a slightly larger shopping party than do the year round Markets.
As a group, Market customers are very loyal. Sixty-four percent of customers have shopped at their local Market for more than five years. Furthermore, once customers arrive at the Market, they tend to linger and enjoy the Market atmosphere. Indeed, fifty-five percent of customers spend more than 25 minutes at the Market.
Customers often commented on the importance of the Market as a meeting place where people can visit with friends and community members. They also stressed the importance of the Market as a venue where community residents could meet and support the local growers. These are clearly two key features that set the
Farmers= Market shopping experience apart from the less personal supermarket experience. Interestingly, it appears as though customers at seasonal Markets hold a greater value in the social aspects of the Market than do customers at year round Markets.
The number one attraction at Farmers= Markets however, is the fresh produce. Provincially, over 90% of Market customers are attracted by the fresh produce. Additionally, customers consistently indicated a strong preference for purchasing products from local producers. Again, over 90% of customers attached importance to supporting local growers. Customers displayed a high level of loyalty to specific vendors. Sixty-five percent of customers routinely purchase their goods from the same vendor during each visit to the Market.
Customers are generally very satisfied with>their= Markets. Approximately 73% of customers are very satisfied with the quality of produce at Farmers= Markets whereas approximately 58% are very satisfied with the variety of produce. The greatest area in need of improvement are the Market facilities, where only 42% of respondents are very satisfied with existing facilities such as parking, washrooms and seating areas. Customers are particularly sensitive to the cleanliness of washrooms.
From a food safety perspective, close to 95% of customers have no concerns with respect to the manner in which products are handled at the market. However, customers do take notice when vendors fail to maintain standards such as wearing sterile gloves when handling meat products or when vendors improperly expose goods to the open air.
The great majority of customers go to the Market to purchase vegetables and fruits (+/- 80%). Baked goods, meat products and eggs also appear to be popular in the Markets where they are offered. Although few of the participating Markets feature fish, this appears to be a popular item with customers. Markets looking to expand or diversify their product line and increase their customer base should give greater consideration to bringing a fish vendor into the Market. Dairy products represent another featured item that appears to be popular with customers.
On a provincial average, customers spend just under $20 per visit to the Market. Almost twenty-four percent of customers spend $6 to $10 per visit to the
Market while 22% of customers spend more than $25 per visit to the Market. The combined annual sales for the 19 Farmers= Markets amounts to $73 million.
The research revealed that Farmers= Markets have a significant economic impact on the local economy. Many local businesses operating near the Market indicated that the Market was beneficial in drawing people into the area and some business owners attributed a portion of their sales to the spillover effect of the Market. Indeed, the research found that close to 50% of Market customers stop at neighbouring businesses to make other purchases while travelling to or from the market. Interestingly, some business owners continue to hold the view that Market customers do not make purchases beyond the Market. Markets need to take an active role in dispelling this notion and promote the Market as a social and economic asset that provides benefits across the community.
Multipliers associated with agriculture and other special events like agricultural fairs, suggest that for every dollar spent in the Market, another two dollars ripple through the wider economy. Recognizing that the survey accounts for 19 of 127 Farmers= Markets in Ontario, and that these 19 Markets generated $73 million in annual sales, we estimate that the true level of sales for all Markets in the province amounts to approximately $500 million. This leads to a total economic impact of approximately $1.5 billion in Ontario.
With respect to jobs, we estimate that on an average summer Market week, approximately 8,000 people are involved in sales and related tasks at Farmers= Markets across the province. Normal multipliers would suggest that for every working person in the Market, there are approximately two persons involved away from the Market. This would suggest that a total of 24,000 people are directly involved in preparing and selling the goods we find in Farmers= Markets.
Many of the vendors you encounter at Farmers Markets grow/produce their own goods. Local vendors/growers are very supportive of local Markets because they offer the farmer an opportunity to earn income by supplying the local
population. Vendors/farmers also gave a strong indication that that their presence at the Market helped to boost farm gate sales.
As with the customers, vendors find the Market atmosphere to be very pleasant and they enjoy talking with customers every week and connecting with the community.
However, vendors also expressed a number of concerns. A fairly contentious issue is the presence of wholesalers at the Market. Vendors who are producers question the legitimacy of Farmers= Markets that allow wholesalers to set up alongside producers. Producers would like to see Markets adopt policies that would restrict the number of wholesalers at the Market, especially when local produce comes into season. Producers would also like to be assured of representation on the Market management team. Some Markets presently allow for this representation but others continue to be managed without direct producer involvement.
Vendors also voiced their concern about the under-representation of younger age groups at the Market and they would like to see more advertising that targets different age groups. Finally, vendors discussed the challenges some Markets face in attracting and maintaining vendors. As more communities adopt Markets and as the established Markets move to expand their operating days, the shortage of vendors could become more problematic. However, Farmers Markets offer many benefits (economic and social) to local growers and a greater effort needs to be placed on promoting these opportunities in attempting to attract growers to the Market.
Farmers Markets are clearly much more than the sum of the economic impacts. They also serve to create and reinforce a sense of community identity and customers strongly value the personal touch that Farmers Markets provide. Indeed, Farmers Markets represent a truly unique, alternative shopping experience.