There have been a number of supply chain adjustments in food and farming in Scotland in recent years, one of which has been the growth in the number of “farmers’ markets” (FMs). These are markets in which agricultural produce from a defined local area is sold by stallholders involved in the production process. The first markets in Scotland started in 1999, and the sector now has an estimated annual turnover of around £7m. While their origins can be traced to the crisis in farm incomes in the late 1990’s, they have come to be seen as a way of providing a range of market and non-market benefits to producers, consumers and wider society. The findings of a recent SAC project indicate that farmers’ markets are complex and display considerable variation, e.g. in terms of their: origins; size; turnover; location; product range; management; strengths and weaknesses; perceived threats. They face a range of challenges, including: retaining critical mass; maintaining their brand; managing costs; improving co-ordination. Despite these, it is argued that farmers’ markets can continue to put the “spring back in the step” of Scottish farming, while providing a range of benefits for town centres, communities and consumers.


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