COVID-19 has caused shortages in retail supermarkets, therefore farmers markets have become a popular destination for people to acquire groceries. The majority of markets in the state have around 500 weekly visitors, with certain markets, such as those in Barossa and Adelaide, having much more. Christine Robertson, executive officer of the Adelaide Showgrounds Farmers’ Market, noted that a large portion of the market’s patrons desire to support South Australian growers and produce. “It’s also being a member of a community where the customer can speak with the folks who cultivate the fruit,” she explained. “Interestingly, farmers’ markets have grown in popularity in recent years, owing to the option to purchase outside, fresher, and healthier.
“There is definitely a tendency for people to buy fresher, more nourishing food and to establish a relationship with those who sell and make it.” People, according to Ms Robertson, no longer want to shop in a spaceless environment where they have no emotional link to the items they purchase. “They’re spending their money more wisely and probably want to spend it where it really matters,” she explained. Manager Terese Stephens was on hand to commemorate the Mount Pleasant Farmers’ Market’s 10-year anniversary, saying the market had a lot to be proud of. Every week, the market has provided a location for local and neighbouring communities to shop local for their fresh food produce to support SA growers and to socialise.
“People want to know where their food comes from because of COVID-19, and store supply chains are not like our supply chains since they go right from the manufacturer to us. We don’t have the transportation and logistics issues that other businesses face. We’ve also observed a rise in the number of individuals using our online store because they want to support the farmers market but may not be able to come as often as they used to.” According to Ms. Stephens, the produce also lasts much longer. Farmers’ markets are popular, according to Mount Gambier Farmers’ Market manager David Geddes, because they allow shoppers to interact directly with the individuals who produce the food.
Recently in the last couple of years with COVID-19, markets have had an increase in shopper numbers and the type of product people are looking for has changed. More boutique products, such as vinegars and oils, have seen sales drop slightly because they are not needed every week but buyers are coming in for basics, like bread and milk that supermarkets tend to sell out of.