Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Maine Local Market Reports

Resources for Farmers \ Maine Local Market Reports

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These market reports are compiled by MOFGA and Maine Farmland Trust for the purpose of supporting farmer and buyer communication and creating clarity in a rapidly changing market.

Observations are collected biweekly with crucial and insightful input from the same group of wholesale buyers and diversified farmers concentrated in the Portland and Mid-Coast markets. Huge gratitude to those folks for taking the time. This information is solely for informational and observational purposes, and is likely most helpful for small, diversified farms selling to the local wholesale marketplace, such as stores that are committed to purchasing local foods, and at farmers’ markets. We hope their insights from week to week, and over the course of the season, help you assess and gauge your own experience and observations about supply and demand trends.

Any questions feel free to directly contact Alex at MFT ([email protected]) or Nicolas at MOFGA ([email protected]).


 

October 16, 2020click to view the full report

Key Takeaways:

• Direct to consumer and some wholesale markets are reportedly steady at the moment, although folks are wondering about the holiday season. Will people gather? How often? In small groups or large groups? What foods will they want to eat?

• Restaurant demand is declining.

• Supplies are becoming limited. Farmers are looking at overall lower than usual volumes of some of their crops due to drought.

• Buyers are currently struggling to source enough fall brassicas.

• Supplies are becoming limited. Farmers are looking at overall lower than usual volumes of some of their crops due to drought.

Note: This is the last Market Report of 2020. Based on our evaluation results we hope there will be Market Reports in the future, with some changes.


October 2, 2020click to view the full report

Key Takeaways:

• Buyers report that consumer demand in wholesale markets continues to be strong and steady, though Farmers report demand is mixed across their markets.

• Appears that supply of summer crops has dwindled sooner than demand in wholesale markets.

• Farmers expect good supplies of fall greens and fresh crops through the fall, and will move from field harvest to tunnel harvest when hard frosts hit.

• Supplies of storage crops will reach a limit sooner than usual due to reduced yields.


September 19, 2020click to view the full report

Key Takeaways:

• Fewer responses this week, but still some observations to share.

• Wholesale buyers and Farmers both report that demand is strong and steady.

• Tomato and fruit supply is dropping off faster than demand in wholesale markets. Other summer crops that are on the way out could do well in wholesale markets, if farmers had supply.

• Farmers anticipate good, steady demand across markets into the fall, and supplies look good to meet it.


September 4, 2020click to view the full report

Key Takeaways:

• Demand at direct-to-consumer outlets seems to have taken a dip in the last couple weeks. Farmers report demand in wholesale markets staying steady, but wholesale buyers report more variation.

• Farmers and buyers are expecting strong consumer demand for fall crops as they come in. Consumers have expressed interest in squashes, kale, apples, etc.

• Supply gaps in the next couple weeks anticipated as weather challenges over the season compound with the usual seasonal transition in fields and tunnels.

• There is general uncertainty about the effects of schools reopening and the tourist season ending on consumer demand. Farmers are hedging their bets and solidifying their fall markets, and buyers seem to be waiting to see what happens.

• Farmers and buyers shared lots of nifty data, news, etc., so check out those responses if you’re interested.


August 21, 2020click to view the full report

Key Takeaways:

• Consumer demand remains strong right now. Both farmers and buyers are wondering how it will change as the season transitions. Farmers and some wholesale buyers are expecting demand to decrease after Labor Day, though one buyer voiced hope that folks are visiting later in the season.

• Supply seems to be mostly meeting demand at the moment, although farmers and buyers report different crops being in over or under-supply. There is variation between and among farmers and buyers.

• Farmers anticipate a lull in supply of some specific crops for the next few weeks as folks have faced a particularly challenging year with heat, drought, pest, and weed pressure. Farmers reported impacts on green beans, zucchini, head lettuce, peppers, winter squash, and pumpkins.

• Want to respond to folks’ questions? Email us your thoughts – we’ll compile and share back.


August 7, 2020click to view the full report

Key Takeaways:

• Farmers report demand for summer crops remains good, with some consumer transition away from crops in abundance such as cucumbers and summer squashes

• Most farmers report direct to consumer outlets remain strong, although wholesale to stores isn’t as consistently strong.

• Supply is pretty much meeting current demand, although a gap is expected as farmers transition from field crops to fall tunnels.

• Continued concern about demand changes after Labor Day.

• Squash a spider, leave your car windows down, or do whatever you do to bring the rain, because we need it!


July 24, 2020click to view the full report

Key Takeaways:

• Demand is strong, and seems to be either leveling off or continuing to increase. Consumers are showing more and more interest in local products.

• Both farmers and buyers are not anticipating any major disruptions or changes, with demand staying steady in the coming weeks.

• What’s going on with pricing? Thanks to everyone who filled out the questionnaire! Results are included in this report. The key takeaway - farmers are using lots of strategies. Of those who responded, half kept their pricing the same as last year and half increased prices this year. After setting prices at the start of the year, about two-thirds are sticking with those prices and about one-third have increased prices to cover new costs due to COVID-19.


July 10, 2020click to view the full report

Key Takeaways:

• Demand across all  markets (except restaurants and institutions) remains elevated and strong for local products, particularly for in-season summer crops

• Any undersupply of summer crops (zukes, cukes, tomatoes) should be resolved in the coming weeks as these crops come into full production

• There remains an oversupply of head lettuce

• What’s going on with pricing? It’s on a lot of folks' minds, so please share your thoughts in this quick 4-question survey for the next report.


June 26, 2020click to view the full report

Key Takeaways:

• Background info: Responses each week are coming from the same group of farmers and buyers concentrated in the Portland and Mid-Coast markets. Use this report to assess and gauge your own experiences and observations.

• Demand seems to be holding steady, much less variation than previous months. Consumers are looking for strawberries and anticipating early season field crops (zucchini, summer squash, new potatoes, cherry tomatoes).

• Supply of main summer crops starting to come in, and should be steady for the next couple weeks. Dry weather has some, but not all, folks concerned.

• Oversupply of head lettuce in most markets remains.


June 12, 2020click to view the full report

Key Takeaways:

• Wholesale buyers report demand is stable, and for the most part, still elevated. Farmers report a more varied picture of demand.

• Expect to sell strawberries, if you have them. Oversupply of head lettuce and salad greens currently.

• Summer tourists and residents having safe options, and confidence in those options, is still a great unknown for wholesale markets. Continued restaurant closures are affecting farmers’ sales.

• Farmers are feeling the need to be agile in marketing and crop planning decisions going into the summer and fall.


May 29, 2020click to view the full report

Key Takeaways:

• Direct to consumer markets, especially farmers’ markets, remain very strong and report increased sales, customers, new customers, and unmet demand for head lettuce, orange carrots, and scallions.

• Wholesale buyers continue to report steady, increased demand although for different products – spring greens, of which local supply is mostly caught up to demand, and asparagus. Roots crops have very little demand, and head lettuce is in oversupply. Farmers report some variance in demand in wholesale markets.

• Both farmers and buyers are looking towards the weather to see what the upcoming weeks will bring, as well as restaurants re-opening. Early summer crops are in demand, mostly met by out-of-state product at the moment, and farmers express concern that they will have limited supply.


May 15, 2020click to view the full report

Key Takeaways:

• Demand for local products through grocery and direct to consumer channels remains higher than normal and steady. Restaurants are beginning to re-open.

• May soon be a lull in supply as growers finish up their hoop-house crops and wait for field crops to be ready – which have been delayed by cold spring weather.

• Folks are considering how demand will change with what might happen during the summer tourist season, increasing national grocery prices, decreased workforce in certain cropproducing regions, and high unemployment.

• Farmers are feeling the tolls of increased time and costs associated with new packaging, sales platforms, and other quick pivots to continue selling through DTC and WS channels. Buyers are wondering about how this will intersect with already rising grocery prices.


May 1, 2020click to view the full report

Key Takeaways:

• Customer demand for local is strong and seems to be staying strong, but slowing down. Specific supply gap in spring greens currently; some concerns that if too many farmers scale up significantly, there may be oversupply of certain crops such as storage crops in the future.

• Farmers are making decisions about their production plans as best they can considering observations in demand, most profitable crops, labor needs, stay at home orders, and business goals. Of the farms we spoke with, none mentioned significant changes to their crop plans, mostly adjustments like fewer restaurant specialty crops and more diversity, and/or staple products for DTC markets. One buyer recommended farmers do what you can to gauge that you’ll have a future market before making significant changes and investments.

• Farmers want to express hope and encouragement to each other that the interest in local food and renewed flexibility towards getting seasonal food through diverse DTC channels can be a long-term change if we find ways to make it easy and safe for customers.