Vancouver – According to a recent report, farmers’ markets can have a significant impact on local economies.
In B.C., where the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets and the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) conducted a study on the subject, farmers’ markets in the province contributed nearly $170 million annually.
The study, called Social and Economic Benefits, also found that farmers’ markets have grown, producing 147 per cent more sales in 2012 than they did in 2006.
David Connell, a professor from UNBC, told the HortiDaily.com that the results of this study are significant for many reasons.
“[The results] highlight the improving viability of local food systems, increasing demand for new farmers, and pressing need to protect the agricultural land base,” says Connell.
Some of the other key findings in the report include:
• Consumers are spending more at farmers’ markets. The average went from $23.41 in 2006 to $28.81 in 2012.
• About half of market visitors shop at the markets at least two to three times per month.
• 60% of all consumers surveyed have been coming to farmers’ markets for at least three years. 43% of all consumers surveyed have been coming to those markets for more than five years.
The consumers also rated the factors that are most important to them in B.C.:
• Nutritional content
• Grown/produced in B.C.
• In season
• Grown/produced locally
• Animal welfare
The study also confirmed that farmers’ markets are key to local economies.
• 54.7% of respondents said they would also shop at neighbouring businesses that day.
• 60% of neighbouring businesses reported a positive effect of the farmers’ market on their business
• 80% of respondents said the farmers’ market was their primary reason for being in that area of town that day.
The study had a total number of respondents of 9,819. Researchers completed 33 assessments across the province, which included shopper surveys using flip charts and sticky dots, crowd counts and one-on-one interviews with both market shoppers and nearby businesses.