Why do New Hampshire residents shop at farmers markets? A new report — a collaboration between the University of New Hampshire, UNH Cooperative Extension, the N.H. Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food and the New Hampshire Farmers Market Association, provides some answers. Among the top reasons: a desire to support local agriculture and access to quality products.
The report, Farmers Market Consumers in New Hampshire, was released earlier this month. A survey of 513 New Hampshire residents conducted in February 2017 revealed that about 84 percent of respondents have shopped, and close to 16 percent have never shopped, at New Hampshire farmers markets.
Support for local agriculture and quality of products were the main reasons customers gave for shopping at farmers markets. The absence of farmers markets and lack of awareness of such markets in their area were the reasons provided by those who have never shopped at farmers markets. Product quality, market location, and product variety were very important factors in customers’ decisions to shop at farmers markets.
The results of a survey of 369 customers of New Hampshire summer and/or winter farmers markets conducted from March through April 2017 indicate that in general, there were more shopping trips by respondents in 2016 than in 2015; however, a small number of shoppers made fewer visits. Many of those who made fewer visits to summer farmers markets in 2016 reported that they shopped at farm stands instead, and some said that they found the farmers market hours of operation inconvenient.
Those who shopped less at winter farmers markets in 2016 indicated that limited product selection and inconvenient market location were the reasons for the change. One hundred fifteen respondents did not shop at winter farmers markets at all in 2016. They cited the absence of a market in their area or inconvenient location as reasons.
The survey participants said that the desire to support local agriculture and the quality of products were their main reasons for shopping at farmers markets. They also said that location, greater product variety, hours of operation, and organic produce were very important factors in making a decision to shop more frequently at farmers markets.
Authors of the report are Alberto B. Manalo, Associate Professor of Environmental and Resource Economics, Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of New Hampshire; Gail McWilliam Jellie, Director, Division of Agricultural Development, N.H. Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food; Nada Haddad, Field Specialist, Food & Agriculture, University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension, Rockingham County, and Wendy Stevens, President of the Board, New Hampshire Farmers Market Association.