Popular Science: The phenomenon of farmers’ shops in Czechia
The article shows that the Czech Republic was the first post-communist country where farmers’ shops appeared. In the comparison with other neighboring states, there was also at least a minimum of sellers of farmers’ products during the communist era here. But if we compare our republic with the other states, Czechoslovakia largely lacked small farmers, so the development wasn’t easy, and after the fall of the communist regime, the growth of small farms and farmers’ shops wasn’t strong. The boom began in the year 2010.
The author has made a database of farmers’ shops. The criterion of the selection of the shop was that the shop was selling farmer’s products and/or a part of the name of the shop was “farmers’”, “regional” or “local”. In the whole Czech Republic, there were 60 farmers’ shops in 2014, from which 39 were a part of a chain of shops. The author contacted the owners using e-mail or phone, and she made interviews with 10 of them, from 30 minutes to 3 hours long. She decided to make the interviews only with 10 shopkeepers, but she covered all the types of shops as categorized by their owners.
The research showed that 76% percent of farmera’ shops in our country were situated in the cities with more than 50,000 inhabitants. 46% of shops were located only in Prague and Brno. The development was influenced also by the need of more distribution ways how could local products come to customers, whose demand of quality local goods has risen. The bad reputation of big food companies played a role as well. Czech farmers’ shops are specific, because they are not owned directly by the farmers, but they sell the goods of various farmers. The big development of these shops is a typical Czech phenomenon.
The shopkeepers face fierce competition of big food chains, but they possess an advantage of the higher quality of sold products in farmers’s shops. Another obstacle is the seasonality of local products, which doesn’t enable selling some kinds of goods, for example fresh fruit and vegetables, all the year round. The shopkeepers solve this problem by selling products of more than one producer, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be from the Czech Republic. Some of the shopkeepers said that they preferred goods from abroad if they are better quality than their Czech equivalents. Local goods but don’t necessarily mean more friendly to farmers or to the environment, but there is an effort to make it so.
Who are the customers of farmer’s shops? The interviewed shopkeepers concluded that demographic characteristics vary, but the customers are people interested in what they eat. It is typical that they prefer quality of food to its price. Many of them are into healthy lifestyle. Another typical group are perhaps surprisingly pensioners, who adore traditional taste characteristics that they remember from their childhood. It would be also interesting to interview the customers of farmers’ shops, which is planned for a subsequent study.
The fast development of farmers’ shops in the Czech Republic shows that they are popular among customers. They have found their position in the Czech food market, and we can hope that they will remain unique and continue to be a source of high-quality, locally produced food.