PIERRE — South Dakota farmers’ market vendors sold over $1.3 million worth of products in 2013 according to the South Dakota Department of Agriculture (SDDA) and state farmers’ markets.
“Direct marketing between farmers and consumers is a growing niche in South Dakota agriculture,” said ag development representative Alison Kiesz. “Farmers are able to sell their food directly to customers through markets, Community Supported Agriculture, roadside stands and other similar venues.”
The Department partnered with 12 farmers’ markets in 2013 to determine gross sales, pricing of products and conduct a customer survey.
“South Dakota has at least 61 farmers’ markets in the state,” said Kiesz. “Few operate year round with monthly indoor markets during the winter and weekly or bi-weekly markets during the summer. Farmers’ markets in this study were open for 18 weeks on average during the growing season.”
The surveys showed that while market vendors are geared up for early season sales in May and June, customers are not often shopping early in the season. Sales and customers usually pick up in July and August and taper off in September.
Customers who shop at farmers’ markets are often loyal customers with 63 percent of them shopping at the market 2-4 times per month.
Nearly half of all customers reported spending $10-20 on each trip to the farmers market while 29 percent of customers spent less than $10 on each visit.
Fifty percent of customers purchased fruits and vegetables at the market, 21 percent bought baked goods and 16 percent took home processed or prepared foods such as jelly, salsa or pot pies.
Product pricing data was also collected from various markets across the state to assist sellers in appropriate pricing for the future.
“This information gives us some valuable insight into statewide customer habits and the great potential of this market,” said Lucas Lentsch, Secretary of Agriculture. “We look forward to a continued partnership with these farmers’ markets and helping grow the local foods movement in South Dakota.”
Agriculture is South Dakota's No. 1 industry, generating over $21 billion in annual economic activity and employing more than 122,000 South Dakotans. The South Dakota Department of Agriculture's mission is to promote, protect, preserve and improve this industry for today and tomorrow. Visit us online at http://sdda.sd.gov or find us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SDAgDept and Twitter @SDAgriculture.For the complete article see the 01-17-2014 issue.
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