The first WI market was held in Lewes, Sussex in 1919. It was not until 1932 that markets were held in other counties. A routine passed by the Annual General Meeting that year stated that contemporary economic difficulties meant that the quality and quantity of home grown foodstuffs should be improved and an increased amount offered for sale 'through WI co-operative markets or otherwise'. With this in mind, the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust offered a yearly grant on a diminishing scale to assist the NFWI in this work and an NFWI marketing organiser was appointed. In five years there were 65 markets
The markets grew at a slow pace but were encouraged during the period of the Second World war due to their exemption from rationing.