Farmers' markets have provided new alternatives for small producers to obtain direct distribution to consumers over the past few years. The growth has been spectacular in several countries and this paper aims to understand this growth and how value might be created by looking at participation and cooperation amongst the traders at these markets.
A survey of farmers' market members was undertaken and findings are reported with descriptive statistics and exploratory analysis to profile aspects of cooperation amongst stallholders.
Over 80 per cent of the traders at the markets were involved in some form of cooperative activity, reinforcing the idea of markets as community‐based activities with high levels of interdependence amongst participants. Cooperation could be identified in different categories and increased over the length of time trading at the market but could not be directly related to performance or the reasons traders offered for doing business at the market.
The research was designed as an exploratory study and provides potential issues for further research as opposed to testing particular hypotheses.
The categorisation of cooperation methods offers traders ways in which they might seek to more formally organise joint efforts. Monitoring the degree of cooperation between traders and linking to performance would also provide the organisers of markets with a potential way of managing aspects of competitive advantage against competing food retailers.
This is the first paper to examine value creation and cooperation in this context and it provides a potential base for working towards sustainable competitive advantage for farmers' markets.
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