This was the prediction of National Farmers' Retail & Markets Association managing agent Gareth Jones. He said that the number of farmers' markets had slumped to about 200 during the 2001 foot-and-mouth disease epidemic but since then they have recovered, increasing by over 15 per cent during the past year to some 700.
The main reason for this increase is the healthy consumer demand for high-quality, traceable local food, particularly fruit and vegetables. In season, produce provides better value for money at farmers' markets than supermarkets, and grower stall-holders gain by getting a bigger slice of the profit margin, claimed Jones.
He said that consumers are looking to farmers' markets and farm shops for good value and stall-holders providing that will continue to do well in hard financial times.
However, an American study has shown that there is a good correlation between a country's economic health and the rise and fall in the number of farmers' markets.
"I wouldn't be surprised if we saw the same pattern in the UK," added Jones. "We could have a difficult time in 2009 with marginal markets closing, and so we have to look to our laurels."
A recent "health check" carried out by the association on a farmers' market in Milford, Surrey - based around Secretts Farm Shop - showed that by changing (improving) the market's layout consumers need to spend more time going round the stalls and therefore increase their spending.