New In Retail: Serdika Center’s Indoor Farmers Market

This article is part of Euromonitor International’s New in Retail series that showcases some of the most interesting retailing concepts from 2016. This month’s entry in the New in Retail series is an overview of a farmers market operating inside Serdika Center in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Serdika Center operates farmers markets inside its shopping mall

ECE Proektmanagement Bulgaria EOOD is the operator of Serdika Center, the fourth largest shopping mall in Sofia, Bulgaria. In June 2016, the company announced the launch of a farmers market that operates daily on the premises of the shopping mall. The market is launched in cooperation with the Sustainable Society Association, a non-government entity that develops farmers markets in the four largest towns in Bulgaria and promotes direct sales from small producers, organic agriculture and environmental protection. The concept takes into account a widespread belief among Bulgarian consumers that produce from large modern grocers is of inferior quality, therefore they seek locally-produced goods.

While the overall concept of farmers markets is not new, what makes the concept at Serdika Center unique is its location and operating hours. While farmers markets in the country typically operate outdoors in a traditional open market format, this farmers market takes place indoors inside a shopping mall. In addition, while farmers markets mainly open exclusively on Saturdays and Sundays, the one at Serdika Center is open daily from 10am to 8pm.

Source: Euromonitor International

The concept reflects the evolution of farmers markets to meet modern shopper needs

Consumers around the world continue to seek out fresh, quality, artisanal and organic food items as well as responsible sourcing, all of which together helps to define what it means to be eating healthy. Health and wellness, as well as environmental concerns, all contribute to the shift in attitude, creating new norms for consumer preferences.

Despite the demand, consumables that support healthier, more eco-friendly lifestyles, growing/producing their own goods is not a viable option for most consumers, and most farmers markets open for a limited amount of time during the week, leaving many shoppers without access to them. As shoppers, especially those in urban areas (many of which are increasingly seeking products from locally-sourced farmers), lead busier lifestyles, it is difficult for them to make grocery purchases from farmers markets. Sellers of locally-produced goods, including those inside Serdika Center, are addressing this issue of lack of accessibility at shoppers’ convenience by engaging in partnerships with retailers and other logistics providers.

Partnerships between farmers markets and retailers/logistics providers are mutually beneficial and will likely to continue

The underlying consumer demand for food transparency, responsible sourcing, locally-produced products and more convenient methods of shopping, such as delivery and click-and-collect, are likely to persist. Partnerships supporting these underlying consumer demands are likely to enable continued expansion of businesses, including farmers markets, that provide consumers access to fresh, locally-sourced products. In the past, farmers markets that sought to directly reach consumers without partnerships with other retailers and/or logistics providers were unable to expand beyond a limited scale. With these partnerships, sellers of locally-produced goods will be able to leverage the necessary infrastructure and other logistics resources to support the expansion of their businesses. As retailers and logistics providers continue to improve their infrastructure to offer added convenience and a more seamless shopping experience to shoppers, sellers of locally-produced products can benefit by engaging in these mutually beneficial partnerships.