Diversity of Markets:
A variety of different markets can currently be found in Ireland and these can broadly be segmented as follows:
- Municipal markets: These are organised by a local authority and operate in a public area like a park, market square, town hall, etc. There may be a nominal charge for participation at these markets.
- Private markets: These markets are run by private companies or individuals on privately owned property, and usually operate by charging commercial rent to stallholders.
- Traders markets: Some towns have historical trading rights which allow stallholdurs to sell on certain days of the week. In some cases there is no charge for trading in these markets.
- Country markets: Country Markets Ltd is a cooperative association which was established in Ireland over 60 years ago. Country Markets sell a variety of home-grown and farm-based produce/products such as vegetables, jams, baking, etc. They are generally held indoors in community centres or town halls, run for just several hours on the day of trading and most also serve tea, coffee and snacks. There are now over 60 such markets in the country, all of which are listed on www.countrymarkets.ie
- Co-operatively run or community-based markets: These markets are run by a group of producers or community-based organisations usually on a non-profit basis.
- Shopping centre markets: Recognising their popularity, shopping centres and supermarkets began organising or welcoming farmers’ markets in their car parks or open spaces. Generally these are run in co-operation with stallholders, with a view to providing a more enhanced shopping experience.
- Event markets: Increasingly, special event markets are being held at specific times of the year, in keeping with community or harvest festivals, agricultural shows or calendar events like Christmas and Easter.
Diversity of Products:
There is a wide range of foodstuffs sold at these markets. While the farmers’ market concept is built around authenticity and on simplifying the ‘farm to fork’ journey for fresh produce, a certain amount of processing and food preparation may also take place.
Food available through markets can broadly be divided into the following categories:
- Food to go: In line with the trend for convenience, there are a number of stalls selling food for immediate consumption. Products like waffles, crêpes, ice-creams, burgers, hot dogs or hot pastries all fit the need of the ‘food for now’ consumer.
From the stallholders’ perspective, the big advantage of this type of product range is that repeat purchases are generally higher than for longer-life products. For people who view visiting farmers’ markets as part of their leisure time rather than shopping time, expenditure on ‘food to go treats can be higher.
- Main meal items: Many stallholders sell products which are destined to be part of a traditional home-prepared meal and, as a result, are consumed in the short to medium term. Meat, vegetables, fish, breads, cheese, etc. are typical examples of this type of produce/product.
- Added value: Some markets include a food offering where the producer cooks the food. Examples include family-sized meat pies, lasagnes and other types of ready prepared foods.
- Treats: Customers like to indulge in high quality treats and will often choose a farmers’ market to source such products as homemade cakes, ice cream, gourmet confectionery, etc.
- Gifts: Sometimes the purchase is not necessarily for the customer but rather a gift for someone else. Examples include handmade chocolates, cakes, biscuits and cut flowers.
- Pantry fillers: Chutneys and jams are examples of products which are central to the ‘traditional foods’ element of the farmers’ market but are generally subject to slower repeat business.
- Seasonal products: Very often, an existing stallholder will expand their range at certain times of the year to include seasonal products, e.g. homemade Christmas puddings, fresh organic turkeys and summer fruits.
- Organic: Consumer interest in organic products has risen dramatically in recent years. Farmers’ markets are an effective channel for selling organic produce/products as the customer base tends to be supportive of the organic ethos. The types of organic product that can be sourced include vegetables, meats, breads and cheeses.
- Health/natural: Freshly squeezed apple juice, natural yogurt, etc. offer the customer a range that is perceived to be healthy, authentic and good for you.
- Artisan: All of the products above command a strong customer following simply because of the way they are made and the ingredients used. ‘Handmade’, ‘handcrafted’, ‘natural ingredients’ and ‘best tasting’ are all attributes of the artisan offering.