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Finding out how our farmers are feeling – Survey 2022

CrowdFarming would be nothing without its farmers, which make up the “productive” part of our community. To find out how happy (or not) they are with us, we do a yearly survey to get their feedback and ask them all sorts of questions to measure their contentment with our direct sales model.

In the spirit of transparency (which is kind of our thing) we would like to share the results with you! After all, it is the other part of our community, the CrowdFarmers, that make it all possible and we thought you might like to know how your support has impacted our farmers. These are the results of our survey, in which 111 of our farmers participated.

The socioeconomic impact of our direct sales model 

  • More than 41% of the farmers assert that their sale price has improved since they work with us.
  • 46% of farmers consider that the income they receive through CrowdFarming is more stable than the one that they receive from other channels. In the case of citrus fruits, tropical fruits and vegetable oils (mostly olive oil), which are our most popular products, the farmers consider the economic stability achieved through CrowdFarming as follows:  

1) Tropical fruits: 69,23% of the farmers said that they had more economic stability selling through CrowdFarming.

2) Vegetable oils: 62,5% of the farmers said that they had more economic stability selling through CrowdFarming.

3) Citrus: 61,53% of the farmers agreed that they had more economic stability selling through CrowdFarming.

Citrus fruits and tropical fruits represent a significant portion of our sales, so the great results we received from these farmers on prices, financial stability and food waste are very representative! 

  • The vast majority of farmers say that their total income has increased (84%), and that their financial situation has improved (73%).
  • 89% consider that their work has been positively impacted in some way since working with CrowdFarming, whether through new knowledge, or more staff 73% responded that they have invested in improvements in their business since working with CrowdFarming.

  • In regard to the social impact, 39% of farmers say that they implement training or education measures for workers (or in the community) and 19% hire people at risk of exclusion.
  • Fostering professionalization and development of the rural economy and addressing the rural exodus is part of the social impact we aim to achieve through direct sales. In relation to this, 26% of farmers affirmed they were able to hire more people since working with CrowdFarming and around 13% were able to invest in new professional profiles.

Improving farming practices – From waste management to renewable energy

Direct sales brings farmers and consumers closer and enables changes that impact the complete value chain – creating awareness is the first step to achieve change and one of CrowdFarming’s main goals. 

  • Around half of the farmers consider that their knowledge of consumers and the market (52%) and of sustainable packaging and waste management (45%) has improved since working with CrowdFarming. 
  • Most farmers (57%) are aware of regenerative agriculture and apply it in some way (29% stated that regenerative agriculture is highly integrated into their farming model, 28% said they applied some regenerative practices).
  • About half of the farmers use renewable energy (53%), make compost (57%) or take advantage of waste to generate food by-products (46%), thus directly impacting the reduction of resource use and(food) waste generation.

When farmers enter CrowdFarming, we ensure their view on sustainability is somehow aligned to ours and to bring them further along the transformation of the agri-food industry into a more sustainable one. One of the areas where we see a representative transformation is food waste: 

  • About 30% of farmers have reduced food waste since they started working with CrowdFarming, with a third of them saying the change was significant (10%)

In this context, it is important to make a distinction between perishable and non-perishable products, as there are stark differences in general food waste data depending on the product, but also within the CrowdFarming products.

→ The two examples we are most proud of, because they are the product types where CrowdFarming made the most difference, are our citrus and tropical fruits:

  • In the citrus category, about 70% of our farmers have reduced food waste, while our tropical farmers have managed a food waste reduction of about 60%. We have to remember a high percentage of food loss happens at the production level – in Europe, fruit and vegetables account for as much as 76% of the total food waste generated during primary production. 

What do we need to do better?

Of course, one of the goals of doing this study is to learn where we can do better – this is a journey we are building together, and we need our farmers feedback to help us define next steps!  

  • One third of our farmers think that CrowdFarming could serve them better by giving more visibility to their work (34%). About one fourth of the farmers think that we could raise consumer awareness even more than we already do (23%) and in turn provide farmers with more advice on managing social networks (24%) and information about their sales and incidents (27%). 

  • As you know, it is farmers who set their own price at CrowdFarming. Many times, this translates into better prices than the traditional supply chain. However – this is not always the case, for some, direct sales do not represent higher prices but new sales channels that can improve their overall income. Some dairy products and fresh vegetables farmers affirm they receive better prices through other sales channels.

  • There are a lot of products in which food waste has not changed at all. Some are to be expected, since they are not perishable and therefore are less dependent on market fluctuations to sell their whole produce and reduce food waste. This is the case of  alcoholic beverages (100% said the food waste had not changed), honey (85,71%), other fruit (80%) and vegetable oils (75%). However, there is still room for improvement for categories such as fresh vegetables.

  • Although a high percentage of farmers knew about regenerative agriculture, farmers producing tropical fruit seemed further away from this concept, with over half of them (53,85%) stating they did not know the term “regenerative agriculture” .

Taking into account the drought that is affecting farmers in the south of Europe, where most of our tropical farmers are from, we need to address this knowledge gap in regenerative practices so they can improve water and carbon retention in the soil and restore biodiversity to their lands.

The journey continues! 

We learn a lot thanks to the feedback we receive everyday through our community of farmers and CrowdFarmers – and this survey is a key input for us. As we see adoptions increasing and more farmers joining – our purpose to transform the food supply chain is reinforced.

  • The vast majority of our farmers intend to continue this journey with us, 92% affirmed they intend to continue selling through CrowdFarming next season. 
  • Not only that, they want to help us innovate and find a more fair and sustainable way to practice agriculture and bring it to the market – Up to 64% of farmers say they are interested in participating in R+D+I initiatives led by CrowdFarming.

So while this survey confirmed the benefits of the CrowdFarming model, it also helped highlight the areas where we need to improve and motivates us to work even harder in 2023 to make this new food supply chain the most sustainable in the world!

Emmeline is a communication expert who has worked in the agri-food and renewable energy industry for the last 8+ years. The newly minted podcaster is a huge foodie, a climate-change worrier (aspiring warrior) and she loves a good discussion almost as much as she loves dogs.

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