USDA Publishes Market Manager Survey Results

      Posted On: June 8, 2009

A new report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) shows reveals a startling array of farmers market statistics, including sales figures, product diversity, and vendor characteristics as reported by farmers market managers from around the nations.  The report, USDA National Farmers Market Survey, is based on 2005 market data and covers a wide range of sales information and operational characteristics compared across regions.

“Seasonal farmers markets remain the predominant market type in the United States. Approximately 88 percent of respondents reported they operated seasonal markets, open, on average, 4.5 months per year. As might be expected, seasonal markets that were open for 6 or fewer months per year attracted fewer vendors and generated less revenue than farmers markets open 7 months or more. Markets open 6 months or less reported an average of 25 vendors, with sales of $20,770 per month, and serving 565 customers weekly. Markets open 7 months or more reported an average of 51 vendors, with $57,290 in monthly market sales and serving 942 customers weekly. Year-round markets reported more than three times the sales of markets operating 6 months or less, had more than twice the number of vendors, and slightly more than six times the number of weekly customers. On the other hand, seasonal farmers markets that operated for 7 or more months performed similarly to markets that were open 12 months per year. Year-round markets reported an average of 58 vendors, had monthly market sales of $69,497, and served 3,578 customers weekly.

Location appears to be a critical factor in market performance. Most market managers reporting high monthly sales were in densely populated urban areas. This observation is based on the rural-urban continuum code2 for the locations of markets that responded to the survey. The most successful farmers markets in terms of sales were located on the coasts. The Far West and Mid-Atlantic regions reported average monthly sales of at least twice that of other regions—$56,742 and $41,452 respectively. The sales of the remaining regions clustered around $23,000 a month. The number of customers per week, as reported by region, somewhat mirrored monthly sales per market regionally. The Far West and Mid-Atlantic regions were again the top two regions, reporting 1,964 and 974 customers per week respectively.”

The full report report (112 pages) may be viewed at: