Farmer's markets are gaining popularity in urban and suburban settings nationwide. The importance of eating locally-grown, organic foods and plant-based diets are all factors in this trend. In addition to all the fruits and vegetables available at farmer's markets, people can purchase various appetizing baked goods. Unless you know exactly what you want at the market and where to get it, chances are you'll go home with baked goods at one time or another because the products are sure to catch your eye.
Many of these items boast of being organic, vegan, or gluten-free. They fit in perfectly with middle-class America's desire to eat healthy even when indulging in bread or dessert, making the decision to purchase them even more enticing.
None of these products is inexpensive, nor should they be. The ingredients such as stone-milled flour from ancient grains or fresh fruit are often expensive. The amount of time it takes to prep and bake these items can be significant, often requiring the baking to occur in the middle of the night. Another expense is the packaging. All of these expenses are passed on to the customer.
Packaging at the markets varies greatly. The two factors to weigh when choosing how to package items for sale are cost and the environment. A few years ago, everything was in plastic, but consumer demand has increased the need to be more creative with eco-friendly packaging. You may still see plastic clamshell containers with stickers and even tissue paper, none of which is recyclable.
A simple form of eco-friendly packaging is paper. Butcher's paper is eco-friendly and much less expensive than compostable plastics. Butcher's paper and string are a suitable way to package bread products. To make their packaging even more sustainable, food businesses often replace stickers with stamps. More and more of that type of packaging is making its way to the market these days.
Other types of eco-friendly packaging can be more expensive. For example, bioplastic containers and bags can be composted, but these can be hard to find and the price tag is higher as a result. Other eco-friendly packaging includes cardboard boxes that can be used for baked goods. They come flat and are folded as needed, and can be found in many shapes and sizes. Some even have a plastic window to provide the buyer with a view of the product. Paper bags with and without a plastic window can be heat sealed for items such as granola or cookies.
Unfortunately, these items start at $.50 each and go up from there compared to as little as $.06 for a plastic clamshell. When considering the average farmer's market customer who is willing to pay more for organic produce, chances are they are willing to pay more for sustainable packaging.