For some farmers’ market vendors, inflation may be the end

Dinner has gotten much more expensive: The Consumer Price Index (CPI) showed that supermarket and grocery store prices rose nearly 11% between April 2021 and this year, with forecasts calling for a further increase ( it increased by 1.3% between March and April alone). Surprisingly, food for home consumption rose even faster than restaurant prices. Although the CPI does not have a specific measure of prices at farmers’ markets across the country, many vendors are acutely feeling the pressure of gasoline and ingredient prices.

“It seems like running a small business isn’t really worth it financially,” says Alina Muratova, founder of Sweet Bakery in Seattle, Washington, which sells at the Ballard Farmers Market. Over the past two years, its costs have skyrocketed, including the price of butter, which has doubled. It costs him $15 just to drive his minivan 7-8 miles from his commissary kitchen to the market, a number that increases exponentially for farmers coming from further afield or needing larger vehicles to their goods.

But the mood surrounding farmers’ markets differs across the country, where the launch of seasonal markets coincided with soaring inflation. News reports nationwide show the various pros and cons of inflation, as evidenced by the buying habits of agricultural markets. “At the end of the day, the economy is tough for everyone right now and our local growers and farmers are no exception,” says Maggie Winton, marketing coordinator for Omaha Farmers Markets.

For shoppers given the flexibility to choose where to shop, the cascade of recent domestic and international events – including Russia’s attack on Ukraine, the pandemic, supply chain issues have underscored the importance of their local food systems, and inflation has just given them another boost of encouragement. In fact, encouraging local food systems is part of the government’s plan to help revitalize the economy.

Some farmers and markets see these rising numbers as the flip side of supermarket food cost inflation: Grant Tims of Rejuvenation Farms told KGUN from Tucson that people were starting to see the gap closing between supermarket prices and those at the farmer’s market, prompting shoppers to spend their money on local produce from the market. “By buying local, you’re supporting your local economy AND your neighbors who work hard to make a living as farmers,” says Winton in Nebraska.

Wendy Weitzel of Davis Farmers Market in California says they’ve had record sales and attendance, and higher gas prices matter less when the vendor is local. They have seen moderate price increases, but she believes these are more related to weather impacts and lower yields than inflation. “We don’t have the multiple stages of the supply chain that grocers have,” she says. “Most of our suppliers grow what they sell, so there is less of a ripple effect on the buyer.”

But sellers feeling the pressure of price inflation face a difficult problem: either raise their prices to help cover rising costs, or keep them where they are to retain old customers while attracting new ones. again. “I always think people come to shop and people always need to eat, so we just have to make sure we charge a fair price for both of us,” said Charuth van Beuzekom, owner of Shadow Brooks Farm & Dutch. Girl Creamery in Lincoln, Nebraska, told KLKN.

Many farmers’ markets offer incentives to SNAP and EBT shoppers, helping to ameliorate the notoriously high prices for low-income shoppers, but the actual effect of these types of programs depends on the location of the markets and their accessibility – these incentives can easily be overshadowed lately. days by the extra cost of gas to cross town.

All of this places pricing decisions to weigh heavily on suppliers. “Small businesses are very hesitant to raise prices,” says Muratova. “When they do, they feel bad and do their best to justify it and explain it to their customers.” She also points out that prices affect not only her as a business and the buyers who come to her stand, but also her employees. “I want to make sure my team makes enough money to live on.” But despite the financial difficulties of the current economy, she says she has no plans to give up on growing her small business.