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Optimising locational access of deprived populations to farmers’ markets at a national scale: one route to improved fruit and vegetable consumption?

Author(s): Amber L. Pearson | Nick Wilson

Journal: PeerJ
ISSN 2167-8359

Volume: 1;
Start page: e94;
Date: 2013;
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Keywords: Farmers’ market | Fruit and vegetable intake | Geography | Equity

Background. Evidence suggests that improved locational access to farmers’ markets increases fruit and vegetable (FV) consumption, particularly for low-income groups. Therefore, we modelled potential alternative distributions of farmers’ markets in one country (New Zealand) to explore the potential impact for deprived populations and an indigenous population (Māori). Methods. Data were collected on current farmers’ markets (n = 48), population distributions, area deprivation, and roads. Geographic analyses were performed to optimize market locations for the most deprived populations. Results. We found that, currently, farmers’ markets provided fairly poor access for the total population: 7% within 12.5 km (15 min driving time); 5% within 5 km; and 3% within 2 km. Modelling the optimal distribution of the 48 markets substantially improved access for the most deprived groups: 9% (vs 2% currently) within 12.5 km; 5% (vs 1%) within 5 km; and 3% (vs 1%) within 2 km. Access for Māori also improved: 22% (vs 7%) within 12.5 km; 12% (vs 4%) within 5 km; and 6% (vs 2%) within 2 km. Smaller pro-equity results arose from optimising the locations of the 18 least pro-equity markets or adding 10 new markets. Conclusion. These results highlight the potential for improving farmers’ market locations to increase accessibility for groups with low FV consumption. Given that such markets are easily established and relocated, local governments could consider these results to inform decisions, including subsidies for using government land and facilities. Such results can also inform central governments planning around voucher schemes for such markets and exempting them from taxes (e.g., VAT/GST).

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