Growth in Number of Farmers Markets Slows
New data released by ERS shows the growth in the number of farmers markets is slowing. From 1994 to 2019, the number of farmers markets rose from 1,755 to 8,771 nationwide, averaging growth of nearly 7% each year. Expansion began to slow in 2011 before eventually falling below a 1% per year increase between 2016 and 2017. Since then, growth in the number of farmers markets has remained modest and stable.
An ERS report found that shares of local food sales have increased at intermediate market outlets, such as grocery stores, restaurants, and distributors. Increased availability of local products at these outlets corresponds with a plateau in purchases at direct-to-consumer outlets such as farmers markets and contributes to the observed slower growth relative to the prior two decades.
According to the 2019 National Farmers Market Manager Survey, about two-thirds of farmers market vendors reported an increase in overall production.
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