Consumer Perspectives on Local, Organic, and Sustainable Terms

Tuesday, July 23, 2013: 10:45 AM
Desert Salon 13-14 (Desert Springs J.W Marriott Resort )
Ben Campbell, Assistant Professor and Extension Economist , University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
Bridget K. Behe , Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Charles R. Hall, Professor and Ellison Chair , Texas A&M University, College Station, TX
Hayk Khachatryan, Ph.D , Food & Research Economics Department, University of Florida, Apopka
Jennifer Dennis , Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
Prior research has shown consumers are willing to pay price premiums for products labeled local, organic, and sustainable.  However, there tends to be a disconnect between what these labels represent and what consumers perceive them to be.  This study sought to better understand these differences and examine differences between U.S. and Canadian consumers.  Given the amount of horticultural trade between the United States and Canada, it is essential to understand how these messages impact the consumer mindset.  As with previous work, our results indicate widespread confusion between the terms local and organic.  Our results indicate that this confusion is not limited to Canadian or U.S. consumers.  Further, there are differences between U.S. and Canadian consumers, notably for local.  For organic, Canadians were more likely to perceive organic as being higher priced.  However, for local, Canadian consumers were more likely to perceive environmentally friendly attributes as local compared to their U.S. counterparts.  For instance, Canadians were more likely to perceive fewer miles, better for the environment and lower carbon footprint as local while U.S. consumers were more likely to perceive local as produced organically.  These results give producers and retailers that either compete domestically or export product valuable information that can be used to better their messaging to different consumer groups.