With gas prices and inflation at an all-time high, farmers are among producers most affected — as evidenced by their sales at local farmers markets.
“We’re definitely more selective in deciding what we’ll buy,” says Chris Birch, a regular shopper at the East York Farmers’ Market. “If we see something we like but it’s gotten more expensive, we won’t get it.”
“For our maple syrup, the packaging is so expensive,” says vendor Amanda McCamus of McCamus Farms. “And the price of gas? we’re coming from the Peterborough area, so that has doubled. Everything is definitely affecting the farmers.”
While shoppers may be excited to visit farmers’ markets again after the the pandemic, it is still a hard time for the vendors to adapt to inflated food costs.
“I need to be honest. You can only raise your price so much” says Ignacio Reyes who runs a small family farm in Niagara with Mimi Bizjak. “You can’t raise 10 per cent or 20 per cent. I feel bad. I think you have to have a fair price. You have to pick and choose. It’s hard.”
Markets busier but buyers cutting back
With gas prices also increasing, businesses may also have to cut back on annual or scheduled events.
“I sometimes do a winter market. I’m definitely not doing a winter market [this year],” McCamus says. “You have a cut in sales and by the time you think of the double in gas and the double in your fees, your vendor fees … it’s not worth it for us to drive from Peterborough.”
There’s also been a change in the way regulars partake in the market
“The farmers markets are actually getting busier because during the pandemic there were no markets,” McCamus says. “So people are coming out, but everyone has to ration what they get each week now because everyone is short on money.”