Dealing with direct sales – at last!

Over the years, I’ve listened to market people bemoaning the fact that producers supply direct to supermarkets.

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From as far back as I can remember, they have blamed direct sales for any number of their own shortcomings. And for a long time, all they ever did was complain. Neither market managers nor market agents did anything about addressing the ‘problem’.
Only in more recent years did a tiny handful of market agents start taking active steps to meet what by then had become the main threat to markets. Market managers did nothing except to wallow in their own misery. No wonder farmers were seeking other avenues for their products.

An exception
As I’ve said before, markets owned and run by municipalities do not have the flexibility to react to challenges. But there’s always an exception to the rule and I’m happy to say that at last I’ve found one. I recently attended a meeting with the market agents and market manager of one of our markets. One of the items on the agenda was ‘Direct Sales’ and my first thought was, “Here we go again”.

I expected to hear the usual range of complaints followed by empty resolutions. But these people were talking about addressing the threat with concrete action designed to improve both buyer and producer experiences in that market. At one stage I asked myself: “Am I in a market meeting or is this just a dream?” It was wonderful to hear everybody contributing to a plan.

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Yes, that’s right. These market agents and managers have a plan, and they’re getting on with it.

The market manager
You might wonder why the market manager was present, considering my earlier remarks. Again, he’s one of those exceptions. Despite difficult challenges, he has carried out a number of tasks over the years to improve the market. Perhaps the most significant of these is the excellent working relationship he has developed with the market agents. I am confident this is one market that is going to meet the direct sales challenge with flying colours! I’ll reveal the identity of this bold group in due course.