In the past decades, agricultural producers and consumers have been dealing with low farmgate prices and expansive grocery shopping respectively, giving rise to new food chain models. To this extent, the Mercati di Campagna Amica (MCAs) farmers’ markets have generated a widespread expectation of saving among costumers, representing one of the most popular Italian experiences in this regard. With the purpose to shed light on the dynamics underlying this phenomenon, the article pretends to verify the degree of actual saving for consumers living in the western outskirts of Rome by comparing the prices recorded in 5 outlets located in the same area with those of a MCA. The analysis on the prices of 34 fruit and vegetables items suggests an average saving of 20% with respect to the mainstream outlets. Besides, MCA prices seemed to be less volatile during the 16-week time span, making the farmers’ market an even more attractive channel for producers. In accordance with the literature on the topic, this paper confirms that the purchase drivers at the farmers’ market deal with ethics and quality, despite the partially met expectations of saving. Finally, the criterion for setting a price cap generates an adverse selection among the products as well as different saving rates among customers.
Keywords: Farmers' market, alternative food chains, price analysis
Jel Code: Q01, Q13, R20