Over 120 food producers, stall holders and food market managers are gathering today at Belvedere House and Gardens, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath for the launch of Bord Bia’s new ‘Guide to Food Markets in Ireland’. 

Following detailed trade research, the guide has been developed to provide useful insights, guidance and inspiration to assist stall holders and market managers build and progress this important route to market. According to a Bord Bia research study carried out in 2010, the annual sales of food and drink at Farmers’ Markets are valued at approximately €27 million.

Commenting on the importance of Food Markets in Ireland, Aidan Cotter, Chief Executive, Bord Bia said that food and farmers’ markets have experienced considerable growth in recent years, growing from fewer than 100 markets in 2006 to almost 150 currently in operation. “These markets are a source of entrepreneurship, social exchange, local character and diverse foods, while also providing valuable income to producers. They are an extremely important route to market for Irish food producers, particularly those at start-up stage. Markets allow for invaluable direct contact with consumers to trial and validate new products and our research found that 80% of traders considered them to be their key sales channel. We believe the new guide launched today will act as a catalyst for the continued and further evolution of markets in Ireland.”

The guide highlights the evolving food market models in Ireland, advises those involved how to set up and manage a market based on best practice, outlines the characteristics of a good market and reviews future market trends. “Bord Bia recognise there is a wide range of Food Markets emerging in Ireland and a requirement for many long established markets to be revived. The guide has highlighted many opportunities that can be viewed as positive indicators for the future commercial viability of markets, most notably consumers’ greater interest in, and receptiveness to, locally sourced foods, provenance and understanding the product story,” he added.

According to Bord Bia research, conducted in November 2013, Irish consumers place great importance on sourcing food locally, with seven in 10 adults considering buying local produce to be important when shopping for food. The PERIscope research revealed that 82% of Irish consumers are now aware of the term ‘food miles’ and the impact that has on the food they purchase.

Tara McCarthy, Food and Beverage Director, Bord Bia said: “There is an increasing sophistication of the Irish consumer, who is becoming more discerning and knowledgeable about the quality and provenance of the food they buy. Our research conveyed that nearly 80% of consumers believe that food produced locally results in higher quality products, while 77% are more confident in the safety of food produced in their local area. Consumers are saying they wish to sustain their own local community, therefore markets provide an accessible way of connecting producers with consumers.”

The new Bord Bia guide points to further opportunities for Food Markets including, consumers’ perception of the link between market produce and a healthier lifestyle, a growing interest in ‘street food’ culture and the theatrical experience created by the producers at the markets. It also acknowledges that challenges exist for Food Markets such as the perception by some consumers that markets are more expensive than traditional shops, the charges for a pitch at a market versus the sales revenue achieved and weather related problems. Following today’s seminar, Bord Bia hosted a number of workshops to assist stall holders and market managers to address some of these challenges. Attendees also heard from Lulu Meyer, Associate Director of Operations at the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market in San Francisco, a market renowned as being one of the top Farmers’ Markets in the US with almost 25,000 shoppers visiting weekly.

This guide is part of a series of publications from Bord Bia including the ‘Guide to Distribution for Food and Drink Producers’ and the forthcoming ‘Guide to Farmer’s Markets for Small Food Producers’. The ‘Guide to Online for Small Food Producers’ and the ‘Guide to Foodservice for Small Food Producers’ will complete the series in 2015.