Success for Mooketsi Market

I recently made my third visit to the relatively new Mooketsi Regional Market north-east of Polokwane in Limpopo, and came away almost in awe.

Readers will recall that when that market opened last year, I wrote that it was breaking one of the unwritten rules of fresh produce markets by being located in a production area instead of an urban area. A market obviously needs buyers – and they’re found in urban areas. Or so conventional wisdom tells us.

Mooketsi offers a wide variety of produce ranging from its foundation product of tomatoes from ZZ2 to onions, potatoes, apples and a whole lot more. According to RSA Market Agency manager, Rudi Venter, more than 120 farmers from around the country supply the market, which has 4 800 registered buyers.

Well, that statistic certainly tosses my pet theory out the window!

Potato success
While at Mooketsi, I came across other phenomena defying the norm. Potatoes, for example, are sent to the market by a farmer in the south-eastern Cape. They are unwashed and impossible to move without a forklift, but the farmer has the foresight to supply standard pockets free to each buyer.

Each bulk bag is equivalent to roughly 100 pockets, and I doubted they would sell in this way. Rudi has pleaded with the farmer to put his potatoes in the standard pocket, but to no avail. Yet, I spoke to a woman who had bought a bulk bag the previous day and was coming back for two more. She was pricing 100 pockets at around R20 each, substantially lower than the market price per standard pocket.

Keep the customer satisfied!
Preferences for apples too are unusual. Buyers at Mooketsi greatly prefer a 3kg long plastic pack of apples with slightly smaller fruit. The point I’m making is that it would be foolish to think Mooketsi would be the same as the Joburg Market: it has different consumer and buyer profiles. Consumers in Limpopo don’t always want exactly what their big city cousins want.

The moral of the story goes back to Marketing 101 – satisfy your customer’s needs!