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by Morgan Gramlich and Dr. Renee Threlfall - December 17, 2019
Here is an update from Horticulture graduate student Morgan Gramlich on her study
of value-added products from farmer's markets!
The purpose of this study was to track farmers market trends (produce availability,
number of vendors selling a given produce item, and produce price) to determine the
potential for producing value-added foods (jam, jelly, salsa, etc.) from farmers market
surplus. Our goal was to reduce food waste and create value-added products that produce
vendors or farmers markets could sell to increase revenue. The data collected was
used to determine what produce was likely in surplus at a farmers market and when
during the market season the surplus produce would be available at the lowest cost.
The farmers market used for this project was The Original Rogers Farmers Market located
in Rogers, Arkansas. Recommendations for potential value-added food products were
made through the interpretation of data collected from this market.
The Original Rogers Farmers Market had about 20 vendors from Arkansas and Oklahoma,
and 4-8 of these vendors sold produce during any given week. At this market, produce
vendors were encouraged by the market manager to maintain their prices consistent
with the weekly market average. Data was collected on market days (Wednesdays and
Saturdays) for fourteen weeks (June 2-September 5) during the 2018 market season.
A visual evaluation of produce availability and price for selected produce items was
collected during every market. The number of times produce vendors had items for sale
(estimate of availability) and the price of those items throughout the season was
evaluated. Availability was calculated as number of vendors selling a given item (%)
multiplied by the number of markets out of the total (%) in which the item was available.
Data for the market season was used to determine what value-added products would be
the lowest cost to develop given produce availability, number of vendors selling the
item (estimated volume), and produce price.
There were over 58 produce items available throughout the market season at The Original
Rogers Farmers Market. Table 1 shows the top 10 most available produce items (squash,
zucchini, tomato, onion, cucumber, potato, bean, eggplant, okra, and pepper) at the
market based on the number of times the item was available for sale and the number
of vendors selling the item. Of the produce available, squash, zucchini, tomato,
onion, and cucumber were the top five most available produce items (over 49%).
Seasonal trends for the top five most available produce at the farmers market were
evaluated. Then this data was used to determine what weeks had the highest number
of produce vendors with the specific item, and what weeks had the lowest prices for
The percent of produce vendors at The Original Rogers Farmers Market selling the five
most available produce items by week were evaluated (Fig. 1). The peak for tomatoes
was from July 18-August 8 when more than 80% of vendors had tomatoes. All of the vendors
(100%) had tomatoes on July 18th and August 1st, 4th, and 8th. There were many weeks
where most vendors had squash and zucchini. All of the vendors (100%) had squash and
zucchini on June 6th, 9th, and 30th and July 7th, 14th and 18th. From June 23-July
18 more than 85% of vendors had squash and zucchini at every market. All of the vendor
had cucumbers on July 18th and had onions on June 6th and 9th and August 29th. From
June 20-July 7, 60-70% of vendors at the market had cucumbers; and 65-100% had cucumbers
August 8-September 5.
The price per pound (lb) of the top five most available produce items at The Original
Rogers Farmers Market were also evaluated by week (Fig. 2). The prices of the produce
ranged from $1.87-3.20/lb. Tomatoes ranged from $2.02-2.28/lb and were at a seasonal
low from June 23-July 7 ($2.12-2.17/lb) and August 18th (2.04/lb). Squash ranged from
$2.33-3.11/lb, and Zucchini ranged from $2.21-2.94/lb. Squash and zucchini had the
lowest price on July 14th. Cucumbers ranged from $1.87-2.34/lb and were priced consistently
from June 2-July 28 at $1.87/lb. Onions ranged from $2.40-3.20/lb and were priced
consistently from June 23-July 11 at $2.40/lb.
The data showed that tomato, squash, zucchini, cucumber, and onion were the most commonly
sold produce items at The Original Rogers Farmers Market and sold by the greatest
number of vendors. These produce items were most likely in surplus at the farmers
market and available for value-added food production.
The data showed the optimal time to purchase tomatoes at this farmers market in 2018
was June 23-August 4. The lowest price for tomatoes occurred from June 23- July 7
($2.12-2.17). From July 18-August 4, 80% of produce vendors sold tomatoes for a slightly
higher price ($2.17-2.28).
The optimal time to purchase squash, zucchini and cucumbers at low cost from this
market was from June 23-July 18. During this time, 85% of vendors had squash and zucchini.
Squash and zucchini had the lowest price on July 14th. Therefore, the optimal purchasing
time for these produce items at this market was from June 23-July 18 when more than
80% of produce vendors had squash and zucchini at the lowest price of the season.
Any time before August 8th, the price of cucumbers was consistently $1.87/lb, and
from June 20-July 7 there were more than 60% of produce vendors supplying the market.
Onions were priced low during late June to mid-July ($2.40). However, the largest
percent of produce vendors (80%) had onions from June 6-16 for a marginally higher
It is recommended to develop products that contain large quantities of these produce
items because of the significant discount produce vendors were willing to provide
when they had surplus. Examples of economically feasible value-added products that
could be produced from these items include tomato sauce, salsa, squash/zucchini flour,
For more information on this project, please visit:
Gramlich, M., and R.T. Threlfall. Economic Feasibility of Value-Added Production from
Farmer's Market Surplus. Arkansas Fruit Vegetable and Nut Update, Cooperative Extension
Service. October 23, 2019.
This project was funded by a Specialty Crop Block Grant from the Arkansas Agriculture
Department, USDA (AM170100XXXXG030).