Challenging times in the marketplace for tradersJune 22, 2012 - 7:00am
The good times saw an explosion in farmers’ markets around County Galway, with virtually every small town hosting one. But these days, things are tougher, as shoppers have become far more frugal and, so, farmers’ markets have faced challenging times.
In the past two to three years, there has been a fairly major downturn in the whole market, according to well-established organic grower and trader, Cáit Curran. But more recently, she is seeing signs that things are improving.
“Galway City wouldn’t have been as badly hit as other places in any case, but my figures are slightly up on last year’s and other people seem to be holding steady.”
It’s been a pretty difficult couple of years, but because she operates on a “fairly smallish scale and is in the market for a long time”, she is surviving. “Hopefully the worst is over but you can never say.”
Organic vegetables are at the upper end of the market and in terms of restaurants who buy organic food, there has been a decline in that area.
However, individuals and householders are still buying and most stallholders would still have the same customers as they have had for years, but on a different level.
“People are buying but they are buying less. More people are saving money now,” says Cáit.
Not everybody is noticing an improvement Peterswell farmer Justin Flannery had been involved in local markets in Ardrahan and Oranmore but he finished up a fortnight ago.
“For the past six months I’ve noticed it going down, so I sold the [market] unit two or three weeks ago,” he explains.
Justin, who owns a 120-acre farm and an onsite abattoir in South Galway, sells his own beef, lamb, chicken and ducks and has a shop on the farm every Friday and Saturday.
Some of the customers at Ardrahan were already purchasing from his on-farm shop, and the market was more convenient for them, but it just didn’t make financial sense for him to continue there.
“People are watching their spend and you’d want to be in the centre of things to do well.”
Justin’s prices compared more than favourably with city butchers and supermarkets, he says, but it wasn’t enough.
“Maybe if I was staffing it myself, it would have made a difference, but I supply two restaurants in Dublin and when thing are difficult, you have to mind home.”
Not everybody involved in local markets is selling food. Italian born Simona Ridolfi, who lives in Corofin is a trader at Kinvara Market and is also part of the market committee. She sells soaps and creams at Kinvara every Friday and also at the Galway City Market on Saturdays.
The Kinvara Market, which until recently was held in an old walled garden space in the village, recently moved to the Square to increase its visibility.
For more, read this week's Galway City Tribune.