Thursday, March 3, 2011

Linda Stanley - Christchurch FM's

We have many friends in the farmers market family in New Zealand and have worked with the market in Christchurch. The recent news from that wonderful city has deeply saddened us.  We hope that the city, its people and the market can come back even stronger than before, our thoughts, sympathy and best wishes are with our Kiwi friends at this difficult time.

Linda and John continue to roam the northern hemisphere working with farmers in Europe and the Americas.

The third week of January was the week for the Farm and More Conference in Bournemouth in the UK and an opportunity for Linda and John to give a talk to the British farmers markets on what we had done in establishing the Kalamunda Farmers Market as a tourist destination.

We were surprised at some of the discussions that farmer market managers were having in the UK.
Some of the markets would still prefer to have markets monthly or every other week.  To us this seems a strange strategy, as we feel it would be very difficult to build customer loyalty when you force your customer to visit your competition every other week to get their produce.

If the aim was to build online shopping in the alternate week, then we could understand the strategy, but the majority of the market managers we talked with were not thinking that way.

The conversation then went onto pricing.  Some market managers were concerned that consumers were price comparing with supermarkets and that this was becoming quite an issue.  We were not surprised if this was an issue since the strategy in some markets was to encourage consumers to go to supermarkets three weeks a month and come to their monthly market on the fourth week.  Of course shoppers would compare prices if the market was only operating one week a month. 

As you can see there were some very heavy debates going on at the British farm market conference.

We firmly believe that price is not the issue at a farmers market, and should not be an issue.  The issue is building the community and developing local product buying.  They are the real issues and that focus is diluted when markets do not work to provide what the consumer really seeks in a market.

The trade show that accompanied the conference was a huge success and we really liked the UK demonstration kitchen on wheels.  We will put pictures of the kitchen on our February Member Club Retail TV program as we believe this could lead to exciting opportunities for all farmers markets.
Markets today have a huge opportunity as the new consumer is getting switched off by traditional retailing and is looking for a more sustainable retail experience where they feel they are helping their local community and local farmers and producers.

We have had some interesting conversations and one that struck us was with the Fine Food Guild in the UK.  The comment was that “local does not mean better.”  We all know that this is an obvious statement, but one we all need to be aware of.  We challenged the comment on purpose and quite rightly the response was that you can get a local artisan or grower who is doing a bad job and this could destroy the image of “local.”

When vetting new entrants into the market it is worth considering this statement. Are they actually providing the consumer with a better product?   In most cases, local is better, but as the movement develops more producers will see an opportunity and may join the movement without the skills required and that would lower the image of the whole market.

In the UK they have set up occasional markets around “Taste.”  Many consumers do not know what real food tastes like and tasty product will grow sales for all concerned.

Also in the UK, a report came out from Which magazine that suggested that organic food was not as nutritious as food grown with inorganic fertilizers. This is a debate that seems to be continuing and some serious research needs to be carried out to provide solid evidence the consumer can understand.

John Stanley has a background teaching perishable retailing in the UK.  He works with the farm market and farm shop industry, is author of “27 Ways to Grow your Farm Market” and “Know Your Produce” Fact Sheets.  Linda Stanley established, and for its first twelve months directed, the Kalamunda Farmers' Market in Western Australia.  John and Linda can be contacted via CLICK HERE  or email

Linda Stanley
Research and Marketing Director

John Stanley Associates
Growing Your Business with Customer Focused Innovation

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