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University of Minnesota Extension

Farmers market aggregation

Key findings

Selling produce at a farmers market.
  • All farm operators who participated in the study reported selling at one or more farmers markets, and farmers market sales comprised 51 percent of the group’s total sales. When compared to other marketing channels by returns to marketing costs, however, farmers markets were the least profitable.
  • For study participants, the gross marketing margin for farmers markets was 67 percent — that is, vendors retained 67 cents of every dollar after subtracting marketing costs associated with selling at the market.
  • Aggregation sales should improve returns at farmers markets. An analysis of participating farmers who sold through the aggregation enterprise showed they improved their return over marketing costs at farmers markets. (According to data collected from study participants, the aggregation margin stands at 87 percent.)
  • Farmers markets will need about $20,000 in sales to breakeven. Based on cost estimates from the four farmers markets that experienced significant sales in 2019 — Chisago, Grand Rapids, Rochester, and Wabasha — they will need to earn about $2,900 annually through aggregation fees to breakeven.

About this study

The farmers market aggregation study was a three-year pilot project started in 2018. It aimed to test the financial viability of multiple farmers market vendors selling products together. During the pilot phase, participating vendors sold to customers via an online ordering system. Items were then available for pickup at a physical farmers market location. The project was a collaboration between the Minnesota Farmers Market Association (MFMA), Renewing the Countryside, and Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (MISA).

Extension conducted an analysis of the 2019 financial performance of farmers markets and farmers market vendors to measure the economic effects of the project. This report presents the results of Extension’s analysis of the aggregation enterprise and the marketing mix of farm operators who participated in the study.

Read full report

Author: Ryan Pesch, Extension educator

Reviewed in 2020

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