Discerning fresh food buyers at Eveleigh Farmers’ Market, Sydney.

NEW national consumer research has examined where Australians typically shop for their fresh vegetables – and the results may surprise mainstream fresh food retailers.

The Colmar Brunton Omnibus Survey (conducted in January and February 2014) on behalf of the Australian Farmers’ Markets Association (AFMA) reports that 14 per cent of the survey respondents typically purchase vegetables at a farmers’ market. In addition, four per cent of the respondents cited they bought direct from growers – straight from the farm-gate or roadside stalls.

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

“These national results indicate the pivotal and growing role farmers’ markets play in healthy eating and in Australia’s fresh food supply.

“Strong consumer demand for seasonal, paddock-to-plate vegetables be they dirty spuds, celery or organic beetroot is the mainstay of successful farmers’ markets.

“What’s more, this data shows the powerful capacity of farmers’ markets to return value to the farm-gate of the hard-working family farmers and horticulturists who choose to sell their vegetable crops direct to shoppers at farmers’ markets.”

Other outcomes of the Colmar Brunton research (1,000-plus respondents) showed that females were more likely to shop for vegetables at farmers’ markets. Notable too was the finding that nine per cent of respondents stated that markets (including community or municipal markets) were their main locations for regular vegetable purchases.

The most common market type mainly shopped by consumers was a farmers’ market (three per cent)

Other non-mainstream supply channel options included in the survey were community markets, municipal markets and wholesale markets offering retail sales access.

Fresh corn at Eveleigh Farmers' Market, Sydney, NSW.
Fresh corn at Eveleigh Farmers’ Market, Sydney, NSW.
Vegetable stall at Eveleigh Farmers' Market.
Vegetable stall at Eveleigh Farmers’ Market.

There are over 150 best practice farmers’ markets trading regularly in all states, a vibrant community movement that has grown progressively since the first farmers’ market commenced trading in Victoria in 1999. www.farmersmarkets.org.au