How to Choose the Best Farmer’s Market Scale
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there are more than 8,000 farmer’s markets operating in the United States and listed in the National Farmers Market Directory. The USDA credits farmer’s markets with accounting for a large portion of the more than $11 billion made in local and regional food sales in 2011 alone, making these marketplaces great ways for farmers like you to bring in profits.
If you’re considering becoming a farmer’s market seller, you’ll need to decide exactly what you’re selling and carefully compare locations to find the one that will be most convenient and profitable for you. In addition, you’ll need to invest in a good produce scale to bring with you.
Choosing the Best Farmer’s Market Scale
There are hundreds of scales available to choose from, so the task may seem daunting at first, but when you know what features to compare, finding the best scale for farmers market sellers can be a simple task.
Here are the three most important things to consider when shopping for the best scale for farmers market sales.
1. NTEP Certification
In most states, a produce scale must carry National Type Evaluation Program or NTEP certification in order to be used as legal for trade scale farmers market equipment. To gain this certification, a scale must meet standards developed by the National Conference of Weights and Measures and pass laboratory testing. NTEP-certified scales are proven to be accurate when properly calibrated and ensure that customers are charged fairly. You can consult the NTEP website to find out whether or not a scale is really certified.
The farmer’s market scale that you choose must be able to meet your capacity needs. The right capacity will vary based on what you intend to sell. For example, if you sell pumpkins, watermelons and heavier produce, you’ll need a scale with a higher capacity than you would if you only sell smaller fruits and vegetables like berries. You also need to consider volume. If you plan to have a large stand and could theoretically have customers buying from you in bulk, a higher capacity scale would be a smart investment.
3. Price Calculation – Is It For You?
There has been some debate over if price calculation is a necessary feature of a farmer’s market scale. A produce scale that doesn’t include price calculation functionality can save you money, but don’t be tempted by those low priced options. We believe that they are a good investment, for two main reasons:
1. You Will Save Time
With price calculation, you don’t need to take the time to stop and calculate a customer’s price. This saves you time with your transaction, and will allow you to focus on other more-important tasks. Even if it is only a few seconds, that time adds up when you consider that you’re likely making dozens of transactions on a typical market day.
2. You Will Be More Accurate
Since a scale with price calculation takes you out of the calculation process, the probability for errors with your price dramatically decreases. We’ve all fat-fingered a button or two on a calculator, but those errors will cost you money, and customers. If your customer believes that you’re trying to cheat them, they won’t trust you, and will not buy product from you as a result.
We found that a Tor Rey PC series to be a great choice for the farmer’s market. Not only do these scales meet expectations, but they have a few other features that make them a treat to work with. Most farmers will do just fine with the 40lb capacity model.
Rechargable battery (about 200 hours on a single charge)
Stainless steel pan that is easy to clean
15 programmable access keys that allow you to choose what produce you’re weighing quickly
RS232 port for an optional printer
Compared to other price computing scales on the market, Tor Rey is priced the most affordably.
Finding the right legal for trade scale farmers market equipment is just the first step. Regardless of if your scale is a price computing scale or not, most states also require farmer’s market sellers to have their scales tested and certified by the state’s Department of Weights and Measures. You should have your scale calibrated and tested at least once per year to keep your certifications up to snuff, and immediately after any instance in which you drop, or mishandle your scale. We’re scale maintenance experts, and can handle this part for you. When the time comes, just contact us and we’ll schedule an appointment.