Farmers Market Consumers in New Hampshire

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Executive Summary

A survey of 513 New Hampshire residents conducted in February 2017 has 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 in March-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.

Introduction of the Farmers Market Report

In February–April 2017, The New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets, & Food, University of New Hampshire (UNH) Department of Natural Resources & the Environment, UNH Cooperative Extension, and the New Hampshire Farmers Market Association conducted two surveys to obtain information on people’s shopping experiences at, and opinions and attitudes related to summer and winter farmers markets in New Hampshire. Such knowledge will be helpful in farmers markets’ efforts to meet customer needs and remain viable in the future. The first survey was conducted as a component of the Granite State Poll (GSP) in February 2017. The Granite State Poll is a survey of a representative sample of New Hampshire (NH) residents, conducted every quarter by the UNH Survey Center. A major purpose of this survey was to estimate the proportion of New Hampshire residents who either shopped or have never shopped at farmers markets in the state, and the reasons for their shopping behavior. The second was an online survey of customers of New Hampshire farmers markets. The objectives of this study included determining if there had been a change in the frequency of shopping by customers in summer and winter markets from 2015 to 2016, and identifying the reasons for such change, if any. The survey also aimed to determine the factors that would encourage customers to shop more. This report includes selected results from both surveys.

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. 

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