Search and Access Archived Conference Presentations

The 2009 ASHS Annual Conference

Consumer Purchasing Behavior and Preferences for Locally-Grown, Certified Organic Produce and Value-Added Products In the Mid-Atlantic Region

Saturday, July 25, 2009
Illinois/Missouri/Meramec (Millennium Hotel St. Louis)
Amy Chamberlain, Horticulture, Penn State University, State College, PA
Kathleen Kelley, Pennsylvania State Univ, University Park, PA
Jeffrey Hyde, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA
An Internet-based survey was administered (17 through 19 Nov. 2008) for the purpose of studying purchasing behavior and preferences for locally grown and certified organic produce and value-added products for consumers living in five metropolitan areas in the Mid-Atlantic region.  Several aspects of purchasing behavior and preferences were examined, which included types of foods consumed, retail outlets from which produce was primarily purchased, local and organic food purchasing behaviors, how produce was grown, branded and packaged, and what other external factors influenced consumer’s purchasing decisions.  A total of 1,565 consumers who reported that they made their household’s food purchasing decisions participated in the 10-minute survey.  Survey participants can be characterized as female (79.9%), Caucasian (82.9%), under the age of 50 (51%), a member of a two-adult household (53.1%) with no children (64%), and having completed an associate level or technical degree or lower (60.6%) with an income of $75,000 or lower (62.2%).  Analysis of the data was performed using Chi Square and ANOVA tests.  Significant differences were observed between groups in purchasing behaviors and product preferences (e.g. fresh produce and processed products) across all examined demographics.  Notable trends in the data include differences in local and organic purchasing behavior, such as that consumers aged 65 and older significantly differed from consumers aged 21-24 in reporting that purchasing locally-grown produce is more important than purchasing organic produce (ρ=.019).  Other trends include where consumers preferred to shop for produce, such as that 56.3% of consumers from the Richmond metropolitan area reported that they shopped primarily at discount stores (e.g. Walmart, Super Target), compared to only 35.2% of consumers from the Philadelphia metropolitan area.  Results will assist produce industry members to determine what types of products should be offered to which consumer segments, and how to best market these products.