Local vendors draw Ont. customers: study

Being able to buy from and meet local farmers at a farmers’ market motivates many Ontario consumers to do so, according to a new study by the provincial market association.

Farmers’ Markets Ontario (FMO) on Tuesday rolled out more results from its series of studies on the economic impact of farmers’ markets and its analyses of shoppers, non-shoppers, market vendors and market management.

The study found 93 per cent of farmers’ market shoppers felt “strongly” about the importance of being able to buy directly from a farmer, with 67 per cent calling it “extremely” important, FMO said.

“The study showed that market shoppers expressed a strong sense of community pride in supporting local producers and that meeting the actual producer was part of their community shopping experience,” FMO said.

Almost half of market vendors reported that 50 per cent or more of their total farm income is generated through farmers’ market sales, FMO said.

Ontario farmers’ markets posted direct sales in 2008 estimated at $641 million, with a provincewide economic impact of up to $1.9 billion per year, the association said.

The direct returns are derived from a total of over 15 million shopper-visits, FMO said, with average per-shopper spending of $27.67 per visit.

FMO chairman Philip Powell said in the group’s release that it’s “moving forward with aggressive marketing and promotion strategies” and is “actively
seeking out additional vendors and market locations as well as assisting
vendors with better signage, advertising and website information.”

Gender ratio

In the interest of matchmaking for single men and women, FMO also noted that in its larger survey of 508 farmers’ markets across Canada, female shoppers were found to outnumber males almost three to one.

“About 70 per cent of shoppers are 40 and older while 30 per cent are aged 18 to 39,” FMO noted, adding that “more than half of shoppers routinely visit the market unaccompanied.”

FMO also noted that over two thirds of farmers’ market shoppers live within 15 minutes of the market, “so she’s likely a local gal,” and about half of shoppers are regular visitors to their local markets.

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