I have been spreading the message over the last few months that the big end of town will soon take action to counter the increased pentetration of farmers markets around the world. The start of 2011 has seen those moves take place. First it was Wal Mart who announced that by 2015 they would have a one billion dollar fresh food offer in all of their stores and they will need one million local growers to provide produce to these outlets. What is “Local” in the USA, it means grown in the USA. This means that if you live in Maine your local produce can come from the fields at the back of San Diego … hardly local. Then on January 4,2011, Barak Obama signed the “Food Safety Modernisation Act”. This will have a serious impact on every producer and retailer,not only in the USA,but around the world.The theory is good.Have a tracing system for food from “fork to fork”.This came about because of the food scares of two years ago in the USA.The concern is the debate going on concerning organic food and if it will be allowed to be sold in the market place. Interesting times and this will affect all of the food retail sector including farmers markets. 70% were not in Existence 10 Years ago! In January my first conference presentation of the year was about retail trends at the Western Conference in St Louis, Missouri. It was one of the best group of speakers I have seen in along time. Our January TV program shows the fashion parade which is a novel idea to get more customers into your store. What intrigued me was a comment made by Mike Dirr and mentioned to him by Kip McConnell of Southern Living. 70 of plants sold today in garden centres did not exist ten years ago. That is an amazing fact and not many retailers could claim 70% of a category did not exist ten years ago. Alas,we are not merchandising and displaying the product to appeal to the consumer and therefore not maximising the benefits of all these new products. We need to be creative with our displays. On our member site there are a number of training videos on how to merchandise plant material. They are worth checking out.