Across the U.S. mobile produce markets are becoming an accepted way to bring fresh food to people in areas where access to it is limited. Truck, vans, buses and trailers are operating in both rural and urban communities, and serve residents who would otherwise have to travel long distances to grocery stores that sell fruits and vegetables.
Many of these markets participate in government-funded nutrition incentive programs that provide money that can only be spent on produce. The case they have established is this: People in low-income or underserved areas will buy fresh vegetables and fruits. They just don’t have the access, and in some cases the means. Many markets report selling out at almost every stop on their routes.
Just as farmers markets have become more professionally managed and marketed, mobile markets are starting to establish higher and more uniform standards of operation. Small business development assistance is helping them implement business plans to increase their earning potential, profitability and stability. A main aim is to become an effective conduit for government-funded nutrition programs. What that means for small plot intensive (SPIN) farmers is increased purchasing power by consumers on the lower end of the income sale, and a new sales channel to reach them.
Much about mobile markets is already familiar to farmers:
> emphasis on the pleasures of great tasting food and a healthy lifestyle
> a platform for offering nutrition education and recipes
> grassroots-based marketing strategies
What is most important is this:
> a focus on selling high-quality, competitively-priced produce in a market-style setting
> prioritizing local sources as much as possible
From a SPIN farmer’s perspective, a mobile market serves as a local distributor that creates new retail outlets at widely scattered places that attract traffic, but aren’t typical shopping venues: transit stops, senior centers, day care centers, health centers, public housing, and churches.
To evaluate the potential of this new sales channel, the old ways including demographics and market research still come into play:
> overall size of the market
> ethnic composition of the market
> income level
> dietary preferences
SPIN farmers who are participating in these markets say it’s important to work with someone who knows the neighborhoods that are being served and their different styles of cooking. Visiting the actual markets now and then and talking to the customers is also a good practice.
As we’ve noted before, food has become a connector across all socio-economic groups. Food trends are being set not only by forward-thinking chefs, but also by those from many different cultures. By serving a demand that no one acknowledged before, mobile markets are helping farmers grow sales and discover new product ideas in communities that have been running on empty for quite a while, and the next It veggie might come from a home kitchen just as well as a farm-to table restaurant.
FIND OUT ABOUT OTHER INNOVATIVE SALES CHANNELS THAT ARE CROPPING UP IN THE SPIN ONLINE SUPPORT GROUP. GET A FREE TRIAL MEMERSHIP WITH THE PURCHASE OF ANY SPIN GUIDE HERE.