Researchers at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities found consumers were willing to pay the same price for organic and local produce. But while 40 percent said they bought local produce “most times” they shopped, just 14 percent said the same for organic.
The survey sought to discover whether consumers really understood the difference between locally grown and organic produce. Consumers cited “freshness” as a key motivator to purchasing locally produced products as opposed to “good for health” for organic. In both instances, consumers considered locally grown and organic as “safe to eat” and recommended that these attributes be stressed by growers when promoting their products.
14 percent of consumers said they “always” buy locally grown fresh produce when available, 40 percent said they bought it “most times”, 38 percent said “sometimes” and eight percent said “seldom” or “never”.
In the case of organic, six percent chose “always", 15 percent chose “most times”, 39 percent chose “sometimes” and 40 percent chose “seldom” or “never”.
Chengyan Yue, chair in horticultural marketing at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, said the study showed consumer demographics often affected their choice between organically grown and locally grown produce. For instance, older consumers were less likely than younger consumers to choose organic tomatoes, while females were more likely than males to purchase locally grown tomatoes.
He added that consumers patronized different retail venues to purchase fresh produce with different attributes. “The results of this research are very important for small-scale farmers, market organizers, and sponsoring agencies in making their production and marketing decisions,” Yue said.