During the slower times at the farmers market, I sometimes chat with the people running the neighboring stands. I like hearing about their businesses.
This past weekend, I learned how many typical vegetable stands run their businesses. It was fascinating!
For readers not familiar with German farmers markets, these vegetable stands appear at basically every farmers market in every German city. They have big plastic bins with colorful, carefully arranged produce which usually looks fresh and enticing. Customers are willing to pay a premium for this produce.
It’s not uncommon for people to say things like, “I buy my produce at the farmers market because the quality is just so much better than at the grocery store.”
I had never specifically inquired about the sourcing or distribution of the produce. I just assumed it must be somehow superior. Otherwise, why would people pay more? Maybe it was regional? Maybe it was sold directly from the farm to the customers? Maybe it was organically grown?
It turns out that the produce sold at the farmers market is purchased from large distributors. It comes from countries all over the world, and because of the supply chain, it’s probably not particularly fresh. After buying in bulk from distributors, the people running the stands arrange their merchandise nicely and then mark up the price for a nice profit.
It sounds exactly the same as a normal grocery store!
This just doesn’t make any sense. Why do people pay more for produce at the farmers market? They’re certainly not all being tricked? Certainly not thrifty, southern Germans who pride themselves on buying things of high quality? Somebody please help me understand!