Market Myths

Dear FMNS,

Unfortunately, some members of our community hold a negative perception of prices at farmers’ markets. How can we change this?

Sincerely,

Money Myths at Market
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Dear Money Myths at Market,

Much of this answer comes from the Farmers Market Coalition (FMC) website.

Market managers, vendors and even market shoppers are often faced with the question, “Why are market prices so high?” It’s important to find ways to address these perceptions about price. “For starters, take a look at what exactly your customers are comparing your vendors prices to: Are they pound for pound higher than prices your customers are paying at local retail stores? Are comparable products of the same quality even found at the neighborhood grocery store? Many farmers markets have done cost comparisons and found that farmers market prices are in fact lower than what customers were spending in the stores. Try conducting your own cost comparison to present to customers.”

During July of 2011, FMNS price-checked two major grocery stores in Halifax and compared the pricing with the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market. Contrary to the myth, in many cases the farmers’ market had the better pricing! We took that information and developed a resource to help spread the word that farmers’ markets are better on EVERY level!

At the same time, comparing prices at farmers’ markets to those of large grocery and box stores is a bit like comparing apples to oranges. As FMC put is, “they may be confusing price with value when customers say prices are too high.” So how should one respond? FMC offers this advice, “Remind customers that VALUE is different from PRICE. Farmers markets focus on a triple bottom line which benefits farmers and consumers, keeping dollars in the local community and bridging rural and urban divides.”

Also, “talk to shoppers about the value of the products sold at your farmers markets in terms of freshness and the benefit to your local economy and the environment. … When customers know they are getting more value in terms of quality, they will be more willing to pay the true cost of good food.”

Lastly, try to educate your community so that they understand that farmers and artisans must receive a price for their products that reflects their labor, the cost of producing and increasing transport costs to market. Educate your consumers on what it takes to produce food!