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Alternative markets a viable option for Alberta producers


March 27, 2009
By Fruit & Vegetable

Topics

According to a new study, 90 per cent of Alberta households indicated
that they had purchased local food in the past 12 months and nearly
one-third of Alberta households say they will buy more local food in
the next year.

farm_market  
Over the past four years, consumer awareness about farmers’ markets in Alberta has increased by 12 per cent.


  

According to a new study, 90 per cent of Alberta households indicated that they had purchased local food in the past 12 months and nearly one-third of Alberta households say they will buy more local food in the next year.

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The study, undertaken by Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development and conducted in September 2008, surveyed more than 1,000 randomly selected Alberta households. The study looked at three market types where food that is grown, made or processed in Alberta is made available to consumers:

  • Farmers’ markets – a place or space that is open on a regular basis where customers can buy produce, meat, processed food products and plants from farmers and growers;
  • Direct-farm retail – customers buy produce, meat, processed food products and plants at an on-farm or ranch store or greenhouse, roadside stall, you-pick farm, etc.; and
  • Farm or ranch activities – paying visitors to a farm or ranch engage in things such as corn mazes, farm tours, horseback riding or staying in a farmhouse or at a guest ranch activities.

Results from the study show that all three areas have experienced impressive growth or showed great potential. For example:

  • over the past four years, farmers’ markets awareness has increased by 12 per cent and there have been modest gains in awareness for farm direct and farm or ranch activities;
  • between September 2007 and August 2008 an estimated 847,000 Alberta households purchased from a farmers’ market, 433,000 Alberta households purchased from direct farm retail outlets and 142,000 Alberta households purchased farm activities;
  • currently, farmers’ markets have an estimated $380 million in annual sales (up 63 per cent from 2004), revenue from farm activities is estimated at $62 million (up 21 per cent) and direct farm retail is valued at $181 million (down 5 per cent);
  • 90 per cent of Alberta households indicated that they had purchased food grown or made in Alberta in the past 12 months;
  • one-third of Alberta households say they will buy more Alberta made or grown food in the next year;
  • approximately $4 out of every $5 dollars spent at farmers’ markets and farm retail is spent on food grown or made in Alberta.

“Albertans surveyed indicated that the top three benefits of buying food grown and made in Alberta were taste and freshness, supporting the local economy, and supporting the local farmers,” says Bill Reynolds, co-leader of Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development’s local market expansion initiative, Edmonton. “The results of this survey were very encouraging. Average spending per visit to farmers’ markets increasing by 30 per cent to $45 from $35 in 2004; per visit spending on farm activities rose 40 per cent to $174 from the 2004 estimate of $124; and, a seven per cent increase in spending for direct farm retail up from $109 to $116 per visit.”

For more information on this survey and for information about Alberta’s farmers’ markets, farm direct outlets and farm activities, visit Alberta Agriculture’s website at www.agriculture.alberta.ca .