Produce auctions provide a market of locally grown products at public auction.
This auction inventory varies by season, and includes baked goods such as pies, cakes, cookies, breads, fudge as well as fruits and vegetables including corn, carrots, potatoes, onion, watermelon, cantaloupe, beets, okra, pumpkins, tomatoes, garlic, peppers, apples, plums, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, lettuce, rhubarb, kohlrabi, zucchini, squash, eggplant. Additionally, eggs, flowers, plants, hay, straw and many other products are sold.
In the United States, these produce auctions appear to take place almost entirely east of the Mississippi River. It’s common for the growers to be Amish or Mennonite, but these groups do not make up the entire seller pool.
Buyers include grocery stores, wholesalers, roadside farm markets and individuals. At most produce auctions, some product is sold in smaller lots intended for individuals, and larger lots directed towards wholesalers.
Why do people attend these produce auctions? First, the produce is about as fresh as it can be — possibly picked or harvested just prior to the auction in many cases. Secondly, these sellers take extra care in regard to soil, water quality, fertilizer (and otherwise ingredients) to make this produce some of the best available.
In this regard, many sellers depend upon the local produce auction to sell their products. These types of auctions are frequent, and allow sellers to grow or otherwise produce large quantities and have them all sold efficiently and quickly.
Management of these auctions is often by committee. Many times these committees will not only set policy, but be involved in the auction as well. Periodically, committees meet throughout the season to review procedures.
Most produce auctions publish a market report of some sort, showing commodity prices and trends. This report is used by both buyers and sellers to make their respective decisions about what to possibly buy and/or sell in the coming days and weeks.
For auctioneers, produce auctions on the retail side offer somewhat unique bid calling opportunities — as some items are sold for as little as 10c each, 25c each, and of course for larger amounts. Bedding plants, for example, might be sold for 15c each, x 12 to a buyer wishing to grow their own modest crop of produce at home.
Produce auctions in the United States have become more popular lately, with more and more consumers looking for healthy foods and locally grown produce; in turn various outlets are hoping to fill this demand. In fact, a recent study indicates such eating can supress “junk food” cravings: http://www.today.com/health/weight-loss-program-rewires-brain-crave-healthy-food-scans-show-1D80115273
Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, Keller Williams Auctions and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. He serves as Adjunct Faculty at Columbus State Community College, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School and Faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University.