Farmer’s markets not just better: also cheaper

by | Mar 29, 2023 | News

A recent survey done throughout the country conducted by Farmers’ Markets New Zealand (FMNZ) has revealed that buying fresh food directly from the grower or producer costs less money than buying the same basket of goods from the supermarket. Not only do farmer’s markets help to support local growers and protect regional food security, they’re also cheaper.

There is up to an 18% saving by shopping at Farmers Markets, and an even larger percentage when fruit & vegetables are considered on their own. At the Southern Farmers Market in Invercargill that amounted to a saving of $50 by shopping at the Farmers’ Market.

“This doesn’t even consider that the food from markets is much fresher, meaning it lasts longer once it’s taken home. There is less food waste in these short distribution chains. By being able to speak directly to the farmer, grower or producer people can ask questions about how their food was grown, and more money is returned to local communities” says Farmers Market NZ chair Jono Walker.

“I suspect we’re seeing a tipping point” says CE of Eat New Zealand Angela Clifford “where all of the shortcomings of the centralised distribution system are coming home to roost. You really must question the retail margin here, as smaller growers don’t have the economies of scale. What percentage are supermarkets taking from our food producers in Aotearoa I wonder? How does this contribute to our overall food security?

Enabling local food systems is a pathway to solving the cost-of-living crisis. Best of all, it’s a mana-enhancing pathway, one that allows New Zealanders to solve their own problems rather than relying on hand outs.”

The research comes at a time of renewed scrutiny on the affordability and fairness of supermarket pricing. The 2022 Commerce Commission study of the grocery sector found evidence of sustained high prices, high profits and uncompetitive behaviour. A recent article also compared local vegetable boxes and found even organically grown produce was cheaper than current supermarket prices.

Nicky Booker, manager of the Amberley Farmers Market in North Canterbury states “while supermarket shelves have been empty, we’ve continued to have eggs to supply to our local community, grown by farmers in our region in a market environment that fosters social connection”.

Anthony Tringham, tomato grower and farmers market stallholder says “the more people who shop at farmers markets the more money is returned to farmers. Bypassing cost-plus systems allows us to sell our tomatoes for less. It’s better for both food producers and eaters.”

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