Date of Award:

7-2013

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Applied Economics

Advisor/Chair:

Kynda R. Curtis

Abstract

This dissertation analyzed consumer primary motivations for attending farmers' markets, preferences for product features, and differentiated produce. We used consumer survey data collected at farmers' markets in Nevada and Utah during summers of 2008 and 2011, respectively. This dissertation consists of three essays. The first essay employed binary and multinomial logistic models to assess primary consumer motivations for attending farmers' markets. Results indicate that many consumers attend farmers' markets primarily to purchase fresh produce. Other motives such as social interaction, purchasing ready-to-eat food, and buying packaged foods, arts, and crafts were also analyzed. In this first essay, consumers who attended farmers' markets were clustered into three groups based on their similar characteristics. Results from this essay are useful to vendors at farmers' markets for they indicate primary motivations to attend. It also provides guidelines to farmers' markets managers in their efforts to meet attendees' expectations. The second essay used an ordered logistic model to analyze consumer preferences for eight fresh produce features. These features are product variety, quality, appearance, pricing, local, organic, freshness, and knowledge of local growers. Findings show that consumer preferences are strong for product quality, freshness, local and organic production. Policy makers can use results from this essay to provide necessary assistance to farmers to feature their products based on consumers' preferences. Health-related policy makers can use the results to implement programs aimed at increasing fresh produce consumption. The last essay used a multinomial logistic, conditional and ordinary least squares models to respectively investigate consumer preferences for differentiated fresh produce, willingness to pay, and stated demands for green peppers, cucumbers, and yellow squash. Comparison between preferences before and those after information about production and place of production was also done. Results demonstrate that consumer willingness to pay and the probability of purchasing each of the three products grown conventionally in Utah overweight those for either organically or conventionally grown of unknown origin. This essay provides information pertaining to produce differentiation through labels. The information has significant impact on preferences for conventionally grown local produce and negative effect on conventionally grown fresh produce of unknown origin. Green peppers, cucumbers, and yellow squash are ordinary goods with inelastic stated demands. Produce growers can use results from this essay to adopt production practices to meet consumer preferences. Results are useful to policy makers in enforcing local and organic certification regulations. They can also be used for pricing and marketing strategies.

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