Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market has joined Sydney Fish Market; Borough Market, London; La Boqueria, Barcelona; Markthalle Neun, Berlin; Central Market Hall, Budapest; and Pike Place Market, Seattle, in creating a partnership that will focus on sharing knowledge and expertise in areas including quality, sustainability and environmental approaches to food and its production.
“This global alliance will create many opportunities to share our experiences and knowledge, so our markets continue to thrive for generations to come,” said Stan Liacos, CEO of Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne.
Liacos noted that the alliance has been formalised with a Memorandum of Understanding, led by London’s Borough Market, and may look to expand to other iconic markets in the future.
“A key strength of the partnership is that it allows these international markets with different experiences the chance to more closely exchange best practices and logistical advice,” IBISWorld senior industry analyst Nathan Cloutman told IRW.
The alliance will value skill sharing, with the various markets involved in learning from each others’ experiences and mistakes, while being able to discuss innovative uses of the historic spaces and places they are situated in.
Pressures of the modern market
One of the key pressures on today’s food markets is land use in city centres, with many markets under direct threat from developments, new transport and infrastructure projects, or in some cases, the effects of pollution.
“Many international markets are struggling with rising costs and ageing infrastructure,” said Cloutman.
“In the face of rising costs, such as rents and utilities, the ability to reduce operating costs and protect profitability is becoming vital for fresh food markets.”
In 2017 the Queen Victoria Market experienced a decline in profitability largely due to the rising costs of utilities and maintenance; a likely driving force for the business’ decision to embark on a major renewal.
“[During this renewal], the alliance will provide an invaluable opportunity to share experiences and knowledge with other iconic markets that have been through similar challenges,” Liacos told IRW.
“This requires balancing the need to maintain the authenticity and traditions of the market experience for shoppers and visitors, while also ensuring that we respond to consumer expectations.”
The alliance comes at an opportune time for food markets as they enjoy renewed relevance in the eyes of increasingly food-savvy consumers.
“Consumer interest for fresh produce markets is expanding on the back of the popularity of TV cooking shows and expanding taste preferences,” said Cloutman.
“In addition, many markets, such as Sydney Fish Market, are benefiting from rising demand for premium food items, such as edible oysters and organic produce.”
Donald Hyslop, chair of trustees for Borough Market, London, noted that despite being on opposite ends of the globe, the M7 markets share many similarities.
“Markets bring people together to enjoy some of life’s great pleasures: the love of good food, company and community,” said Hyslop in a press release.
“[Consumers] want to know where their food comes from and speak directly from the farmer, or the producer who brings their crop to market, the fisherman who’s dived for the scallops and the artisan who’s churned the cheese.
“This agreement sets an expectation that we will share our knowledge and experiences where we can, and support our staff to learn from each other.”