Small Irish Food and drinks producers often begin trading at local farmers' markets and the effect that such markets have in any start-up company’s development cannot be underestimated. Farmers’ Markets allow a company to develop a loyal customer base in their local community, to gather valuable feedback on their products as well as suggestions for new products; they are also essential in guaranteeing regular cash flow for small businesses which is all the more important in the current climate.
Farmers' Markets in Ireland have experienced considerable growth in recent years with fewer than 100 markets in 2006 and almost 150 currently in existence throughout Ireland. With unemployment on the increase, consumers are certainly keen to support local jobs and with producers usually manning stalls themselves, a farmers’ market is perhaps the most tangible way for them to do this.
Recognising the importance of Farmers’ Markets in Ireland, Mr. Trevor Sargent, then Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food with responsibility for Food and Horticulture, launched a pilot Good Practice Standard for Farmers’ Markets in 2009. The pilot Standard, which is voluntary, is denoted by a banner, which participating markets may display.
Farmers' Markets signing up to the Good Practice Standard will undertake to hold markets regularly; to stock a substantial proportion, ideally 50%, of local produce from the county or neighbouring counties; to accommodate seasonal and local garden/allotment produce, as well as compliance with food safety/labelling rules and criteria on good governance.
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