Competition benefits all

Anybody who has spent time on a busy fresh produce market floor will agree that it is a madhouse of noise and frenetic activity – especially at the daily trading peak, usually from 5am to 8am.

Serious market forces are playing out their daily tug-of-war between supply and demand, quality and continuity. And lurking within the parameters of these fundamental marketing principles is another factor – competition.

A market floor is the most competitive environment one can imagine. Every farmer’s products must ‘live or die’ there. Produce will ‘live’ when it is of the right quality, attractively presented and delivered on a regular basis to the market. It will ‘die’ when those requirements are not met. Market forces in the form of buyers will simply ignore inferior products.

Get down to the market!
I always encourage farmers to frequently visit the market they supply. If they use more than one market, they should try to visit each market once or twice a year. Regular visits to the market and market agent are part and parcel of all successful farmers’ marketing strategy. The ‘competition factor’ is one of the reasons I always advocate regular market visits – to observe what the competitors have on offer. It doesn’t pay to suffer from an over-inflated ego and believe that one’s own produce is faultless.

One should always strive for improvement, and a valuable first step is to see what other farmers are doing, and learn from them if necessary. If they are achieving a higher price than most, there must be a good reason for this.

Look and listen
A wise farmer will listen to his market agent and even talk to reputable buyers to gather as much information as possible about his products and what he can do to improve them. It is a fact that certain farmers consistently sell at a premium. How do they achieve this week after week, month after month? A visit to the market will provide the answer. Then it’s time to return to the farm and make the necessary improvements. That’s why competition is so invaluable on the market floor.